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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 1/11/13

Syria: A Jihadi Paradise

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The Obama 2.0 administration -- and Israel -- would be more than comfortable with the MB in power in Syria, following the Egyptian modus operandi. The Brotherhood promotes the idea of a "civil state"; one just has to check the few "liberated areas" across Syria to detect rebel civility inbuilt in hardcore Sharia law and assorted beheadings. 

Yet what the NATOGCC compound and Israel really want is a Yemeni model for Syria; a military dictatorship without the dictator. What they're getting instead, for the foreseeable future, is Jihadi Paradise. 

Off with their heads
Almost a year ago, al-Qaeda number one Ayman al-Zawahiri called on every Sunni hardcore faithful from Iraq and Jordan to Lebanon, Turkey and beyond to take a trip to Syria and merrily crush Assad. 

So they've kept coming, including -- just like in Afghanistan -- Chechens and Uyghurs and Southeast Asians, joining everything from the FSA to Jabhat al-Nusra, the number one killing militia, now with over 5,000 jihadis. 

A report published this week by the London-based counterterrorism outfit Quilliam Foundation confirms Al-Nusra's role. The lead author of the report, Noman Benotman, happens to be a former Libyan jihadi very cozy with al-Zawahiri and the late "Geronimo," aka Osama bin Laden. 

Al-Nusra is in fact the Syrian branch of al-Qaeda in Iraq (AQI), the terrorist brand of late Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, also known as Islamic State of Iraq after Zarqawi was incinerated by a US missile in 2006. Even the State Department knows that AQI emir Abu Du'a runs both AQI and al-Nusra, whose own emir is Abu Muhammad al-Jawlani. 

It's AQI that facilitates the back-and-forth of Iraqi commanders -- with plenty of fighting experience on the ground against the Americans -- to sensitive areas in Syria, while the Syrians, Iraqis and Jordanians at al-Nusra also work the phones to extract funding from Gulf sources. Al-Nusra wants -- what else -- an Islamic State not only in Syria but all over the Levant. Favorite tactic: car and truck suicide bombings as well as remote-controlled car bombs. For the moment, they keep a tense collaboration/competition regime with the FSA. 

What happens next? The new Syrian National Coalition is a joke. Those GCC bastions of democracy are now totally spooked by the jihadi tsunami. Russia drew the red line and NATO won't dare to bomb; Russians and Americans are now discussing details. And sooner or later Ankara will see the writing on the wall -- and revert to a policy of at least minimizing trouble with the neighbors.
Assad saw The Big Picture -- clearly, thus his "confident" speech. It's now Assad against the jihadis. Unless, or until, the new CIA under Terminator John Brennan drones itself into the (shadow war) picture with a vengeance. 

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Pepe Escobar is an independent geopolitical analyst. He writes for RT, Sputnik and TomDispatch, and is a frequent contributor to websites and radio and TV shows ranging from the US to East Asia. He is the former roving correspondent for Asia (more...)

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