Meet the ‘Moderates’ the U.S. Is Supporting in Syria: They’re al-Qaeda
Eric Zuesse, as originally published by Strategic-Culture.org
Increasing evidence is coming in that the groups the U.S. is trying to install into power in Syria are actually contending groups of Sunni Islamic jihadists who seem to agree on only one thing: they want to replace the secular government of the Shiite Bashar al-Assad, who is supported by Russia and by Shiite Iran. They want to replace it with a Sunni Islamic government. Some of these groups have perpetrated terrorist attacks (some including beheadings) against Americans, and one such group is even al-Qaeda, the Sunni Islamic organization that, of course, perpetrated the 9/11, 2001, attacks and others.
In Syria, al-Qaeda goes under the name Jabhat al-Nusra, or al-Nusra for short. As will be documented here, the United States has, until recently, been allied with al-Nusra, but, because of the bad image this U.S. alliance has spread about al-Nusra among their fellow-Sunnis, al-Nusra is now separating itself from ISIL, the Islamic State in Iraq and Levant, otherwise known as Islamic State in Iraq and Syria or ISIS, and which the United States is now assisting, to defeat the forces of Assad, notwithstanding ISIL’s infamous videos of their chopping off heads of nonbelievers.
Thus, for example, Britain’s Telegraph headlined on August 10th, “Al-Qaeda withdraws from fighting Isil in Syria to avoid ‘US cooperation’,” and reporter Nabih Bulos in Istanbul opened with:
Al Qaeda’s affiliate in Syria has declared it will withdraw from frontlines where it has been fighting against Islamic State because it does not want to cooperate with the US-led coalition.
Jabhat Al-Nusra declared on Sunday it would abandon the northern province of Aleppo, where it has been battling Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (Isil), leaving other rebel factions to take over its positions in the area.
The region north of the city of Aleppo has designated as a potential anti-Isil buffer zone by the US and Turkey.
Later, Bulos’s report went on to say:
Jabhat al-Nusra nevertheless insisted that even though it was abandoning its positions in the northern Aleppo countryside, it would continue the fight against Isil in other parts of the country.
Despite sharing their origins in al-Qaeda, Jabhat al-Nusra and Isil have battled each other since a rancorous split in 2013.
Jabhat al-Nusra, whose jihadist militants are credited with being among the most effective on the battlefield, recently achieved a dazzling string of battlefield successes as part of the Army of Conquest, a loose coalition of Islamist factions.
Although it is thought to have received military and financial support from other members of the US-led coalition such as Qatar and Saudi Arabia, Jabhat al-Nusra has nevertheless repeatedly scuttled plans for Western support, branding Western-backed rebel factions as “collaborators.”
This report is consistent with two earlier reports that the famous American journalist, Seymour Hersh, was not able to find a publisher for inside the United States, and which were therefore (like the Telegraph report above) published in Britain, instead, both of them by the London Review of Books. Those Hersh articles were widely dismissed by U.S. news-media as being untrustworthy. (Hersh used unnamed sources — supposedly because the sources didn’t want to be fired.) Even Hersh’s main publisher, the New Yorker, has rejected his recent reports about this and related matters, and New York magazine (a competitor to the New Yorker) has allowed him to express his view of the conflict he’s having with the New Yorker’s current editor. (However, New York hasn’t published any of Hersh’s actual articles, either.)
Hersh’s first such artice was “Whose Sarin?” on 19 December 2013, and it opened:
Barack Obama did not tell the whole story this autumn when he tried to make the case that Bashar al-Assad was responsible for the chemical weapons attack near Damascus on 21 August. In some instances, he omitted important intelligence, and in others he presented assumptions as facts. Most significant, he failed to acknowledge something known to the US intelligence community: that the Syrian army is not the only party in the country’s civil war with access to sarin, the nerve agent that a UN study concluded – without assessing responsibility – had been used in the rocket attack. In the months before the attack, the American intelligence agencies produced a series of highly classified reports, culminating in a formal Operations Order – a planning document that precedes a ground invasion – citing evidence that the al-Nusra Front, a jihadi group affiliated with al-Qaida, had mastered the mechanics of creating sarin and was capable of manufacturing it in quantity. When the attack occurred al-Nusra should have been a suspect, but the administration cherry-picked intelligence to justify a strike against Assad.
The second one was more definitive, answering the question that the first of his two reports raised. It was issued on 17 April 2014, “The Red Line and the Rat Line,” and it reported that,
British intelligence had obtained a sample of the sarin used in the 21 August attack, and analysis demonstrated that the gas used didn’t match the batches known to exist in the Syrian army’s chemical weapons arsenal.
During the interim months between the two articles, Hersh was able to answer the “Whose Sarin?” question. He found, and reported in the second article:
The joint chiefs also knew that the Obama administration’s public claims that only the Syrian army had access to sarin were wrong. The American and British intelligence communities had been aware since the spring of 2013 that some rebel units in Syria were developing chemical weapons. On 20 June analysts for the US Defense Intelligence Agency issued a highly classified five-page ‘talking points’ briefing for the DIA’s deputy director, David Shedd, which stated that al-Nusra maintained a sarin production cell: its programme, the paper said, was ‘the most advanced sarin plot since al-Qaida’s pre-9/11 effort’. …
The full extent of US co-operation with Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar in assisting the rebel opposition in Syria has yet to come to light. The Obama administration has never publicly admitted to its role in creating what the CIA calls a ‘rat line’, a back channel highway into Syria. The rat line, authorised in early 2012, was used to funnel weapons and ammunition from Libya via southern Turkey and across the Syrian border to the opposition. Many of those in Syria who ultimately received the weapons were jihadists, some of them affiliated with al-Qaida. (The DNI spokesperson said: ‘The idea that the United States was providing weapons from Libya to anyone is false.’)
In January, the Senate Intelligence Committee released a report on the assault by a local militia in September 2012 on the American consulate and a nearby undercover CIA facility in Benghazi, which resulted in the death of the US ambassador, Christopher Stevens, and three others. The report’s criticism of the State Department for not providing adequate security at the consulate, and of the intelligence community for not alerting the US military to the presence of a CIA outpost in the area, received front-page coverage and revived animosities in Washington, with Republicans accusing Obama and Hillary Clinton of a cover-up. A highly classified annex to the report, not made public, described a secret agreement reached in early 2012 between the Obama and Erdoğan administrations. It pertained to the rat line. By the terms of the agreement, funding came from Turkey, as well as Saudi Arabia and Qatar; the CIA, with the support of MI6, was responsible for getting arms from Gaddafi’s arsenals into Syria.
That report is further confirmed by the 10 August 2015 report in Britain’s Telegraph.
Eva Bartlett of Inter Press Service reported, on 8 July 2014, her interviews with victims of the U.S.-supported fighters in the Syrian city of Homs. Typical was this:
Mohammed, a Syrian from the Qussoor district of Homs, is now one of the reported 6.5 million internally-displaced Syrians.
“I’m a refugee in Latakia now. I work in Homs, two days a week, and then return to Latakia to stay at my friend’s home. I left my house at the very end of 2011, before the area was taken over by al-Nusra and al-Farooq brigades.”
He spoke of the sectarian nature of the insurgents and protests from the very beginning in 2011.
“I was renting a home in a different neighbourhood of Homs, while renovating my own house. Just beyond my balcony there were protests that did not call for ‘freedom’ or even overthrowing the ‘regime’. They chanted sectarian mottos, they said they would fill al-Zahara – an Alawi [Shiite] neighbourhood – with blood. And also al-Nezha – where there are many Alawis and Christians.”
An internal Stratfor (private CIA) email report, dated 7 December 2011, concerning the planning stages of the American mission to remove Bashar al-Assad (the mission that created refugees such as “Mohammed” from Homs), described their private meeting at the Pentagon, where the officials “emphasized how the air campaign in Syria makes Libya look like a piece of cake. … It’s still a doable mission, it’s just not an easy one.” Obama’s people were “saying that the idea ‘hypothetically’ is to commit guerrilla attacks, assassination campaigns, try to break the back of the Alawite forces, elicit collapse from within. There wouldn’t be a need for air cover, and they wouldn’t expect these Syrian rebels to be marching in columns anyway.” Obama’s people seem to have underestimated both sides of the war. Some European nations were supportive but not yet fully committed to the operation. “The main base they would use is Cyprus, hands down. Brits and French would fly out of there. They kept stressing how much is stored at Cyprus and how much recce comes out of there. The group was split on whether Turkey would be involved, but said Turkey would be pretty critical to the mission to base stuff out of there.” The Stratfor agent wrote that, “I had a meeting with an incoming Kuwaiti diplomat (will be coded as KU301.) His father was high up in the regime, always by the CP’s/PM’s side. The diplo himself still seems to be getting his feet wet in DC (the new team just arrived less than 2 weeks ago,) but he made pretty clear that Kuwait was opening the door to allowing US to build up forces as needed. … He said that while KSA and Bahrain they can deal with it as needed and black out the media, Kuwait is a lot more open.” Thus, “On the Kuwaiti political scene, the government is having a harder time dealing with a more emboldened opposition, but the opposition is still extremely divided, esp among the Islamists. The MPs now all have to go back to their tribes to rally support” for the operation against Assad. All of these Muslims were Sunnis.
An excellent overview article by Steve Chovanec, dated 16 November 2014, included a sub-head, “US-Supplied Rebels Align with al-Qaeda, al-Qaeda Aligns with ISIL.”
One thing that’s hidden in the West (since the West’s aristocracies are allied with the aristocracies in Arabic countries, which are almost exclusively Sunni) is that Islamic jihad is a specifically Sunni phenomenon, it’s not Shiite; Islamic terrorism that’s directed against Christian-majority nations is basically a Sunni phenomenon, it’s a phenomenon of the Arabic aristocracies that Western aristocracies are allied with, and this is the reason why there’s a tendency to attribute it to Iran and to other Shiite areas, which actually have nothing to do with it and are instead themselves at war against it within the Muslim world. Whereas Russia is allied with Shiite forces, and is therefore clearly and unequivocally opposed to Islamic terrorism, which is Sunni, the United States and its vassal-nations are basically allied with Sunni forces, and this means that Western aristocracies support the Sunni aristocracies that fund Islamic jihad.
A report from Russian Television on August 12th presents shelling of Damascus by (as the reporter describes it, at 1:38 in the video) “a rebel faction with very strong ties with Saudi Arabia, news reports saying that it is funded by Saudi Arabia.” Yet again, it’s a Sunni invasion of Shiite-run Syria, this time by Sunnis that are paid directly by the Sauds. And the Sauds, of course, dominate all of Sunni Islam, and are also the main funders of al-Qaeda. U.S. President Obama wants to defeat Russia even more than he wants to defeat ISIS, al-Qaeda, etc. Thus, the fact that Russia has always consistently been against Islamic-jihad groups, does not deter Obama from allying the U.S. with Saudi Arabia (the key backer of Islamic jihad groups), instead of with Russia. If he needs Islamic-jihad groups in order to defeat Russia, he’ll back them, but only secretly.
So, al-Nusra (or al-Qaeda) has now publicly separated itself from ISIL, because ISIL is receiving critically important assistance from the United States, just as al-Nusra is now being blamed by their fellow Sunnis for having done the same, between 2011 and 2013. Back in 2011, Obama thought he wouldn’t need ISIL’s help, but he does.
Furthermore, Obama is just copying all his predecessors back at least to Reagan, and even to the end of the Carter Administration, when Zbig Brzezinski told the Mujahideen (the earlier name for the Taliban) that “God is on your side.” The U.S. had used Sunnis such as Osama bin Laden to break the Soviet alliance with Afghanistan, much as the U.S. is now using Sunnis to try to break the Russian alliance with Assad, and likewise with Ukraine, including Crimea. Obama’s primary target throughout isn’t jihadists, so much as it’s Vladimir Putin. Bush’s “regime change” obsession was Saddam Hussein. Obama’s wasn’t just Muammar Gaddafi, and it wasn’t just Viktor Yanukovych; and it isn’t just Bashar al-Assad — it’s Vladimir Putin himself. It’s defeating Russia. All else is actually subordinate to that.
In this regard, Obama is following the position that was expressed by his friend Brzezinski who has expressed it many times, such as, in 1998, reprinted later under the heading, “How Jimmy Carter and I Started the Mujahideen.”
As I bannered on 6 March 2015, “Brzezinski Says Russia’s Putin Wants to Invade NATO.” The U.S. is adding former communist nations to NATO, surrounding Russia with NATO nations all along Russia’s eastern borders, and to the south of Russia. But Brzezinski and others of his ilk say that Russia is surrounding NATO. The Obama Administration says such things as, “We’re building up on NATO’s borders. These are NATO countries, these are allies of ours, that are concerned based on what Russia is doing on their borders.” The Administration pretends that the U.S. isn’t the aggressor here — that Russia is. They’re saying that essential defense is instead aggression; meanwhile, unprovoked aggression is being done for “allies of ours” (but that were traditionally allies of theirs). Russia is supposed to accept that. Russia won’t.
After the end of communism, Brzezinski, and some others, continued hating Russia, because they had hated it ever since childhood, or at least ever since young adulthood. (Brzezinski was born a Polish nobleman.) They were indoctrinated with this form of racism, not merely with hatred of communism. What was originally a hatred of an ideology, thus remains in some people as a hatred of one specific ethnicity: Russians. World War III could result. Unless people like this are booted out of power in the United States — and in Europe.