The U.S. is likely to formally label Syrian fighters with the Al Nusra Front a ‘terrorist’ organisation, and effectively set back any possible victory over Bashar Al-Assad.Unless, of course, the West intervenes directly.
The organisation represents 7.5 to 9 per cent of Syria’s rebel force, approximately 10,000 fighters, but more than that they represent a growing trend of radicalization in the ranks of Syria’s rebels.
The New York Times sums it up best:
But greater attention has been focused on al Qaeda involvement in the uprising since mid-July, when fighters professing allegiance to the terrorist organisation appeared during the opposition takeover of the Bab al-Hawa border crossing with Turkey. In one video, five fighters declared their intention to create an Islamic state. (Mainline Qaeda ideology calls for a Pan-Islamic caliphate.)
The intent of the U.S. is ostensibly to replace Assad, who actively siphons weapons and support to Hezbollah in Lebanon, with a better option.
The longer the civil war goes on though, the more likely Assad’s eventual replacement will be a group of Jihadis, and so the less likely they are to support the will of the west.
The label of “terrorist organisation” also represents a significant problem both legally and logistically. Ronald Reagan had to famously remove Iraq from the terrorist state list in order to give them aid in their fight against Iran.
The rebels are a fractious group though, and figuring out what weapons will end up in whose hands will prove entirely too difficult. The U.S. has a long history of arming the wrong people. It also has a recent history of doing as much.
labelling Nusra as ‘terrorists’ is indicative of two developing courses of action: a dwindling of weapons coming from the U.S., and direct intervention from the West.
One way or another, the West’s foreign policy degrades with every day Assad keeps a grip on Damascus.
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