A Blog by the Editor of The Middle East Journal

Putting Middle Eastern Events in Cultural and Historical Context

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Has the US Unwittingly Helped Out Jabhat al-Nusra?

The US decision to list the Syrian rebel movement Jabhat al-Nusra as a supporter of terrorism, on the grounds that it is an offshoot of Al-Qa‘ida in Iraq,appears to have backfired; in response 29 militias and coordinating committees announced a new pro-Jabhat al-Nusra front, which presumably was not rhe result the US was seeking. If they were seeking to marginalize the group, they instead won it new allies. One mystery is why, exactly, the US chose to take this action now at a time when generally the US has been expressing support (mostly verbal) for the rebels), and the rebel advances have been getting generally positive coverage in the West.

Perhaps they would have done better to follow the lead of blogger Karl ReMarks, who offers this "Secular Idiot's Giude to Syria's Jihadist Groups."  It's funny, if irreverent, and a reminder that ridicule can sometimes be effective where "terrorism" labels are not.

1 comment:

David Mack said...

My guess is that listing Jabhat al-Nusra was the price USG paid to get serious Russian engagement in easing Bashar out of power. We will see in coming days, but a Russian operation to exile the Asad family to a cozy villa on the Black Sea and to facilitate negotiations between Alawite coup leaders and the rebels could save tens of thousands of lives. This would also leave a more stable outcome than what we have witnessed in the zero sum history of Iraq since 2003. Russians are really scared by the likes of Jabhat al-Nusra.