By YUSUF FERNANDEZ
In late May, the European Union extended its sanctions against Syria. For its part, the United States started in those days its program to train “moderate” armed elements who should allegedly fight against ISIL, but whose real goal is to overthrow the Syrian government.
The European Union and the United States claim to support the war against ISIL but they never mention the other big terrorist group, al-Nusra Front, the branch of global terrorist movement al-Qaeda in Syria. All the statements by Western countries in which they say they are concerned by the expansion of terrorism in Syria, Iraq or other Middle Eastern nations never refer to al-Qaeda or its affiliate, al-Nusra Front.
Has the West forgotten the 11-S attacks? In 2001, al-Qaeda was the West’s big enemy and the target of the so-called “war on terror”. Now, al-Qaeda is openly cooperating with some US allies in the Middle East, which are openly sponsoring terrorism in Syria. The US and the EU are doing nothing to stop this support even though it would be very easy for them to do so. There seems to be an attempt by some Western countries, especially France and the United States, to recreate the failed strategy put into practice in Afghanistan in the 1980s that is to support terrorists against its international and regional rivals, not caring about the consequences for the peoples of the region and, ultimately, for Western countries themselves.
Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar have become the leading sponsors of terrorism in the world. However, none of them have been included in a US or EU list. Funnily, the US list includes Iran and Syria, two of the countries, along with Iraq, which are the main actors in the war against terrorist groups in the Middle East, which are supported by the US and its allies.
Recently, Turkey sent thousands of terrorists through the border to Syria in order to launch an offensive in the province of Idlib, whose territory is now in the hands of al-Nusra Front. A recent video published by Turkish daily newspaper Cumhuriyet shows Turkish state intelligence agents participating in smuggling of arms across the border to terrorists.
For its part, Qatar and Saudi Arabia have launched a media campaign to try to clean up the image of al-Nusra Front. Last March, some media belonging to the Persian Gulf Arab states claimed that this organization could “break its ties” with al-Qaeda, led by Ayman al Zawahiri, without changing its doctrine, and form a new organization supported the Persian Gulf monarchies.
According to Reuters, citing sources of al-Nusra Front, an officer of Qatar intelligence service met on several occasions with the leader of al-Nusra Front, Abu Mohammad al-Jolani. Funding was promised if the separation was announced. A new umbrella group would be created in order to hide names as al-Qaeda or Al-Nusra Front as much as possible. Therefore, the “al-Jaish al-Fateh” (The Army of the Conquest) came out in the Syrian battlefield. It is made up actually by al-Nusra Front and other smaller groups. The change of name deceived nobody.
Al-Nusra Front, however, rejected to distance itself from Al-Qaeda. This decision was made public in a statement quoted by Reuters. In spite of it and of being included in the UN list of terrorist groups, it is clear that al-Nusra Front has not suffered an interruption of aid from countries such as Turkey or Qatar.
Last week, Al-Jazeera, which has been accused by many governments of supporting and spreading terrorist propaganda, aired an interview with Jolani, in which he tried to give a “new image” of his group, known by its countless atrocities on Syrian soil.
The interview sought to strengthen the status of al-Nusra Front in Syria and make it look like a “responsible” partner in anti-Damascus fight. In this sense, he claimed that his organization focuses on toppling the Syrian state rather than launching attacks against Western targets... at least until they can take over the power. Joulani said, however, that he would not rule out strikes against the United States if US warplanes kept hitting Al-Qaeda, saying the group has “the right to self-defense.”
Actually, a careful analysis of Jolani’s interview clearly shows Al-Nusra’s sinister and criminal ideology and plans for Syria. It highlights the horrible fate that awaits the peoples of the region if they ever fall under the control of Takfiri groups.
In the interview, Jolani claimed that his group was not “a fringe element” of the “Army of the Conquest” but its “spearhead,” and added that “everyone knows it”. It was a revealing statement making it clear that “moderate” fighters supported by the US and France are only mere tools or puppets of al-Qaeda and extremist Takfiri groups in Syria. Many of them even share their ideology. Therefore, there is no “moderate armed opposition” in Syria.
Jolani threatened other groups if they refuse to submit to Al-Nusra Front and did not rule out the possibility of conflicts. However, he rejected to criticize the ISIL, which shares the same Wahhabi ideology, although he regretted that that group adopted a strategy that implies to attack al-Nusra Front “in order to take advantage of the situation”.
On the other hand, Joulani once again rejected all the speculations on a possible withdrawal from Al-Qaeda. “Al-Nusra operates under the guidance of...Ayman Zawahiri,” he said. Al-Nusra continues to receive its strategic directives from Zawahiri, Jolani acknowledged
Against religious minorities
Al-Nusra’s brutal approach on religious minorities could be clearly seen in the interview. Jolani sought to reassure that his group would not wipe out these minorities “as long as they were willing to convert to” Wahhabism.
As brutal as these “moderate and reassuring” plans may seem, the reality is even worse. In December 2013, al-Nusra Front fighters abducted 13 nuns and three maids in the Christian town of Maaloula amid fighting with Syrian forces. “We all know that if they come, they will slit our throats for no reason,” a Lebanese Christian from the border town of Qaa told the Associated Press last September. He added that he had decided to join self-defense groups in order to fight against Wahhabi terrorists.
Tellingly, the word “Israel” was not uttered by Jolani even once during the interview. Clearly, the Zionist regime does not top the priority list of Syria’s al-Nusra Front, which receives medical and other kinds of support from the Israeli army.
Therefore, by allowing their allies -Saudi Arabia, Qatar and NATO-member Turkey - to fund and arm these groups, by trying to weakening Syria through sanctions and by training and funding “moderate” armed groups which openly cooperate with al-Qaeda on the ground- the United States and the European Union are not only guilty of the mass murdering of Syrian people but also of the creation of a future huge threat to the West.
The apparition of two terrorist statelets, in Idlib and Eastern Syria, ruled by Al-Qaeda and the ISIL respectively, will work as a magnet for extremists from Western countries and will allow terrorist groups to build a deterrence against future international actions to contain terrorists activities.
Western countries have promoted the dangerous fiction of the existence of a “moderate armed opposition” in Syria. Actually, there are no “moderate terrorists” in Syria. All of them share the same extremist ideology and want to build an extremist state, a Wahhabi dictatorship, which would rule Syria through terror.
States that have rightly put al-Nusra Front and other groups like it on their lists of terrorist organizations are, however, supporting their media and military campaign to overthrow the Syrian state. This is the case of France, which has again sold his soul in exchange for some juicy contracts signed by President François Hollande during his recent travels to Qatar and Saudi Arabia. The US and France have sent arms to these groups knowing that many of them will end up in the hands of al-Nusra front and ISIL.
Meanwhile, it is the Syrian government, people and army who will fight and defeat the terrorist groups. They know the only alternative is to become slaves of brutal terrorist groups guided by a not less cruel ideology. Syria is aided in this fight by responsible powers such as Russia and Iran.
Recently, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov warned that terrorism in Syria will not be defeated by airstrikes and “to realize that mission, land military operations are a necessity”.
“I do not think how we could do that without the participation of the Syrian government,” Lavrov said. He also inquired why Washington does not see the Syrian government as a partner in fighting ISIL although it did not see any obstacles when Damascus cooperated with the international community in eliminating the chemical weapons.