Monday, July 30, 2012

Syria: "Is al-Qaeda gaining a foothold?" ABC interview with Prof. Vali Nasr.

By Elizabeth Kendal

On Sunday 29 July, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation's Jim Middleton spoke to Vali Nasr, a professor of international politics at Johns Hopkins University, concerning the situation in Syria.

Nasr insists that the fall of the regime will not lead to democracy as the rebels are not democrats. Furthermore, "this is an uprising," he says, "that is becoming increasingly bloody, it's now essentially a sectarian war between a minority Alawite regime and its Christian and Kurdish allies and the majority Sunnis. This is no longer really about democracy. And liberal democracy does not emerge in these kinds of circumstances of violence and fratricide."

Nasr also gives voice to the concern widely held by Christian advocates that should the Assad regime fall, there will be no way to "prevent a massacre of the Alawites and the Christians and those Sunnis who supported Assad".

As Nasr notes, what is happening in Syria is what has happened in Iraq. "The very jihadists who used to go from Syria to Iraq have started to come back from Iraq into Syria. . .  It's not clear as to who will prevent al-Qaeda from setting up shop in various little emirates across Syria the way in it did in western Iraq after the collapse of the Saddam regime."

He warns that if Syria "collapses in a bad way," the whole region will be impacted. "None of the countries around it will be immune from impact. And some like Jordan, Lebanon and Iraq would be vulnerable to much more than a minor impact; the reverberation and the aftershocks could completely destabilise those countries. . .  The fight in Syria will not stay in Syria. It will go to Lebanon, to Iraq, to Jordan."

Nasr notes that Iran's influence "has diminished and it will diminish further," while adding, "but the change of government in Syria is not going to be clean. It's not going to be that a pro-Iranian government steps down and a pro-Saudi one takes over. Syria is going in a direction that probably there will be no winners and everybody will lose."

I highly recommend this eleven minute interview to anyone interested in formulating a clearer picture of the Syrian tragedy.

Is al Qaeda gaining a foothold in Syria? (Video and transcript)
ABC Asia Pacific Focus, 29 July 2012

For more on this subject see also:

Is Syria Falling into the Hands of Al-Qaeda?
by Khaled Abu Toameh, Gatestone Institute
July 27, 2012

Syria: foreign jihadists could join battle for Aleppo
Jihadists, many with al-Qaida sympathies, are said to be planning to join a decisive battle against regime troops.
By Martin Chulov in Beirut
The Guardian, Monday 30 July 2012

Quotes:
"Scores of foreign jihadists have crossed into Syria from Turkey in the past two weeks, some of them telling Syrians that they are planning to travel to Aleppo to join a decisive battle against regime troops. . .

"Syrian residents and a Turkish smuggler interviewed by the Guardian say many of the men have come from the Caucasus, while others had arrived from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Gulf Arab states.

"'There have been Tunisians, men from Uzbekistan too and from Pakistan,' said the smuggler. 'They say the Syrians are brothers and that they are going to help them'."

This (allegedly) is "to the annoyance of many rebel leaders who say that they will fight the new arrivals if they try to impose themselves."

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Free Syrian Army rebel leaders who think they can advance with Islamist aid and then fight them off later when they no longer need them, should take a look at Mali!