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Kerry, Lieberman, McCain, and Al Qaeda Unit to Threaten Syrian Regime


February 14, 2012
John Glaser / AntiWar.com & Elizabeth Kennedy / Associated Press & The Cable

The Pentagon, CIA and members of Congress are pushing for covert and overt US infiltration to topple the Syrian government -- a goal recently embraced by al Qaeda. With US knowledge, Al-Qaeda fighters also helped to destabilize Libya. After Gadhafi was killed, an al-Qaeda flag was raised over the rebel stronghold of Benghazi. Al-Qaeda-in-the-Islamic-Maghreb call themselves the "main beneficiaries" of NATO's Libyan war, noting specifically their receipt of captured weapons. Al-Qaeda: unlikely US ally.

http://www.antiwar.com/blog/2012/02/13/washington-al-qaeda-united-on-syria/

"Wounded Syria is still bleeding day after day, and the butcher (Assad) isn't deterred and doesn't stop. However, the resistance of our people in Syria is escalating and growing despite all the pains, sacrifices and blood."
-- Al-Qaeda's Leader Ayman al-Zawahiri

""The Syrian people can't expect Assad to heed calls for his departure, nor can they rely on the United Nations to act. For the sake of innocent lives in Syria and the security of the entire region, the United States must keep up the pressure on the regime and begin planning for a post-Assad Syria."
-- Republican Senator Marco Rubio

Washington & Al-Qaeda, United on Syria
John Glaser / AntiWar.com

(February 13, 2012) -- Mere days after US officials leaked intelligence that al-Qaeda's branch in Iraq has been infiltrating Syria [1] to conduct terrorism, arm the opposition, and take advantage of the uprising against President Bashar al-Assad, al-Qaeda's #1 Ayman al-Zawahiri condemned the Assad regime [2] and urged support for the opposition [3].

Simultaneously, a growing number of influential members of Congress [4] have openly advocated [5] aiding the rebel Free Syrian Army with weapons and training in order to facilitate the fall of Assad. The Pentagon and US Central Command are currently reviewing possible US military options against the Syrian regime [6]. And now a bipartisan group of Senators has attempted to legislate such action, introducing a resolution on Friday to that end [7]. Excerpt from that resolution:

"The Senate… urges the President to support an effective transition to democracy in Syria by identifying and providing substantial material and technical support, upon request, to Syrian organizations that are representative of the people of Syria, make demonstrable commitments to protect human rights and religious freedom, reject terrorism, cooperate with international counterterrorism and nonproliferation efforts, and abstain from destabilizing neighboring countries."

Oddly enough, this is not the first time in recent memory that the leadership in the US has explicitly advocated merging US policy with al-Qaeda's goals. From early on in the NATO mission to aid the Libyan rebels and oust Muammar Gadhafi, it was known that many of those so-called [8] "freedom fighters [9]" had ties to al-Qaeda [10].

In fact, US intelligence found that al-Qaeda fighters had swarmed to Libya and tried to "drum up extremist activities [11]." After Gadhafi was killed, an al-Qaeda flag was raised in the center the rebel stronghold of Benghazi [12]. Following that, al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) publicly called themselves the "main beneficiaries [13]" of the instability caused by the NATO war, noting specifically their receipt of weapons [14].

Aside from all of the terror and abuse the newly empowered National Transitional Council has brought the people of Libya in the form of murder, theft, torture and thuggery [15], they and their varied militias have also been imposing a harsh brand of militant Islam [16] on Libyans, as opposed to the democratic paradise Obama predicted.

I'm not suggesting a conspiracy theory, just plain stupidity. As I've explored elsewhere [17], while I'm no stranger to Imperial Grand Strategy [18], I think the system operates in a way such that backward policies are carried out even when many elites recognize they're against the "national interest." The real question is how nobody is calling them out on it. Joe Lieberman has just recently called the Syrian rebels "brave freedom fighters" almost synchronous with Ayman al-Zawahiri. How is this not headline news?

Update: What was I thinking: only criticisms of government policy can be described as "enabling al-Qaeda [19]." That charge of course doesn't apply to actually advocating the same policies as al-Qaeda. Silly me.

Footnotes

[1] al-Qaeda's branch in Iraq has been infiltrating Syria: http://news.antiwar.com/2012/02/11/us-iraqi-officials-al-qaeda-behind-syria-bombing-arming-opposition/

[2] condemned the Assad regime: http://www.csmonitor.com/World/Middle-East/2012/0212/Al-Qaeda-s-Zawahiri-calls-for-war-to-oust-Syria-s-Assad?utm_source=twitterfeed&utm_medium=twitter&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+feeds%2Fworld+%28Christian+Science+Monitor+%7C+World%29

[3] urged support for the opposition: http://news.antiwar.com/2012/02/12/al-qaeda-chief-urges-world-to-back-syria-rebels/

[4] influential members of Congress: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/3036789/vp/46365000?utm_source=dlvr.it&utm_medium=twitter#46365000

[5] openly advocated: http://news.antiwar.com/2012/02/06/push-for-us-intervention-in-syria-grows/

[6] are currently reviewing possible US military options against the Syrian regime: http://news.antiwar.com/2012/02/07/us-begins-review-of-military-options-in-syria/

[7] introducing a resolution on Friday to that end: http://thecable.foreignpolicy.com/posts/2012/02/10/senators_call_for_aiding_the_syrian_opposition

[8] so-called: http://www.google.com/url?url=http://www.youtube.com/watch%3Fv%3DPWfYsD-iKGA&rct=j&sa=X&ei=lVA5T4ekCOLd0QHW9NjoDw&ved=0CEMQuAIwAA&q=ed+shultz+libya+freedom+fighters&usg=AFQjCNE-T0tbNc2E1BtyQ0ptLwogB05Q3A

[9] freedom fighters: http://blogs.aljazeera.net/africa/2011/07/13/alleged-abuses-take-shine-libyas-freedom-fighters

[10] ties to al-Qaeda: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/africaandindianocean/libya/8407047/Libyan-rebel-commander-admits-his-fighters-have-al-Qaeda-links.html

[11] had swarmed to Libya and tried to "drum up extremist activities: http://news.antiwar.com/2011/12/30/us-al-qaeda-in-libya-to-recruit-fighters/

[12] an al-Qaeda flag was raised in the center the rebel stronghold of Benghazi: http://news.antiwar.com/2011/10/31/experts-revenge-killings-imperil-libyas-relative-calm/

[13] called themselves the "main beneficiaries: http://news.antiwar.com/2011/11/11/aqim-were-main-beneficiaries-of-libya-weapons/

[14] their receipt of weapons: http://news.antiwar.com/2011/09/14/russia-al-qaeda-likely-got-anti-aircraft-missiles-from-libya/

[15] murder, theft, torture and thuggery: http://www.antiwar.com/blog/2012/02/08/libya-intervention-exacerbated-suffering-syria-would-be-worse/

[16] harsh brand of militant Islam: http://news.antiwar.com/2012/01/18/libyas-freedom-fighters-are-imposing-harsh-brand-of-militant-islam/

[17] explored elsewhere: http://www.antiwar.com/blog/2011/09/13/elites-know-their-foreign-policy-endangers-america/

[18] Imperial Grand Strategy: http://www.google.com/url?q=http://www.antiwar.com/blog/2011/11/30/u-s-empire-com-the-dangerous-evolution-of-imperial-grand-strategy/&sa=U&ei=5FU5T56XI82ftwfK1d2uAg&ved=0CAQQFjAA&client=internal-uds-cse&usg=AFQjCNGzLnLl7AV3jyHOStklngf6A3z7zQ

[19] criticisms of government policy can be described as "enabling al-Qaeda: http://www.salon.com/2012/02/06/top_official_drone_critics_are_al_qaeda_enablers/singleton

Copyright 2009 Antiwar.com. All rights reserved.



Al Qaeda's Zawahiri Calls for War to Oust Syria's Assad
In a video message, Al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri called for Muslims to rally for a war to oust Syria's Bashar al-Assad

Elizabeth A. Kennedy / Associated Press

BEIRUT (February 12, 2012) -- Al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri called for the ouster of Syria's "pernicious, cancerous regime," raising fears that Islamist militants will try to exploit an uprising against President Bashar Assad that began with peaceful calls for democratic change but is morphing into a bloody, armed insurgency.

The regime has long blamed terrorists for the 11-month-old revolt, and Zawahiri's endorsement creates new difficulties for the US, its Western allies and Arab states trying to figure out a way to help force Assad from power. On Sunday, the 22-nation Arab League called for the UN. Security Council to create a joint peacekeeping force for Syria, but Damascus rejected it immediately.

In an eight-minute video message released late Saturday, Zawahri called on Muslims to support Syrian rebels.

"Wounded Syria is still bleeding day after day, and the butcher (Assad) isn't deterred and doesn't stop," said Zawahri, who took over Al Qaeda after Osama bin Laden was killed by US special forces in Pakistan last May. "However, the resistance of our people in Syria is escalating and growing despite all the pains, sacrifices and blood."

The United Nations estimates more than 5,400 people have been killed in Syria since the uprising began in March. But that figure is from January, when the UN stopped counting because it couldn't gather reliable data there anymore.

While many of the anti-government protests sweeping the country remain peaceful, the uprising as a whole has become more violent in recent months as frustrated demonstrators and army defectors take up arms to protect themselves from a steady military assault. An increasing number of army defectors known as the Free Syrian Army have launched attacks, killing soldiers and security forces.

Syria now has become one of the deadliest conflicts amid the uprisings in the region that began early last year, and many fear the country of 22 million at the heart of the Arab world is on the verge of a civil war that could spread to neighbors.

A string of suicide attacks have killed dozens of people since late December. The latest, twin bombings in the major northern city of Aleppo, killed at least 28 people on Friday, the government said. Some 70 people were killed in earlier attacks in the capital, Damascus, on Dec. 23 and Jan. 6. All the blasts struck security targets.

Is it Al Qaeda?
No one has taken responsibility for the attacks, but the regime immediately blamed Al Qaeda.

Saturday's statement by Zawahri appears to bolster Assad's accusations, but the Syrian opposition and the Free Syrian Army reject the government's claims entirely. They accuse forces loyal to the regime of setting off the blasts to smear the opposition, terrify people into submission and exploit fears of chaos and sectarian warfare.

For many Syrians, the uncertainty over the future is cause for alarm in a country that has watched neighboring Lebanon and Iraq descend into bloody wars over the years. Syria is a fragile jigsaw puzzle of Middle Eastern backgrounds including Sunnis, Shiites, Alawites, Christians, Kurds, Druse, Circassians, Armenians and more…. [Story continues at link.]


Senators Call for Aiding the Syrian Opposition
The Cable

WASHINGTON, DC (February 10, 2012) -- A bipartisan group of senators will introduce a resolution Friday calling on the Obama administration to start providing direct material and technical assistance to the Syrian opposition.

Sen. Bob Casey (D-PA), chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Near Eastern and South and Central Asian Affairs subcommittee, and committee member Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) are leading the charge on the resolution, which will be formally introduced Friday afternoon but was obtained in advance by The Cable.

The resolution would set into writing that it is the sense of the Senate that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad should leave power and that the United States should begin providing direct support to the opposition to make that happen.

"The Senate... urges the President to support an effective transition to democracy in Syria by identifying and providing substantial material and technical support, upon request, to Syrian organizations that are representative of the people of Syria, make demonstrable commitments to protect human rights and religious freedom, reject terrorism, cooperate with international counterterrorism and nonproliferation efforts, and abstain from destabilizing neighboring countries."

The State Department has said it could provide humanitarian assistance in Syria but has stopped short of pledging any aid that could be used in the burgeoning civil war between the opposition and the Syrian regime.

The resolution also urges Obama to add more targeted sanctions on Syrian officials, establish a "Friends of the Syrian People" group, engage the international community on the potential to provide safe havens for Syrian civilians, begin discussions about prosecuting those guilty of war crimes in Syria, and get a handle on the vulnerability and security of Syria's conventional, biological, chemical, and other weapons.

The senators also call out Russia and China for vetoing the recent United Nations Security Council resolution on Syria and condemn Russia and Iran for supplying the Syrian regime with weapons.

"Bashar al-Assad is responsible for killing at least 6,000 Syrian men, women, and children. The regime's brutal violence has torn the country apart and threatens to destabilize the entire region. The international community can and should do more to support the people of Syria during this terrible hour in their history," said Casey, in a statement to The Cable.

"The Syrian people can't expect Assad to heed calls for his departure, nor can they rely on the United Nations to act. For the sake of innocent lives in Syria and the security of the entire region, the United States must keep up the pressure on the regime and begin planning for a post-Assad Syria," Rubio said in his own statement. "We need to hasten Assad's departure from power and also lay the groundwork for the difficult path towards a true, inclusive democracy."

The other original co-sponsors of the resolution are Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Johnny Isakson (R-GA), and Jon Kyl (R-AZ). We're told the resolution could be on the agenda for the SRFC's next business meeting on Valentine's Day. If approved, it could then go to the Senate floor via a number of different avenues.

The resolution notes that Syria is a signatory to the 1966 International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the 1984 United Nations Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, and the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights. It then expresses the sense of the Senate that the Syrian regime has pursued a brutal crackdown that includes "gross human rights violations, use of force against civilians, torture, extrajudicial killings, arbitrary executions, sexual violence, and interference with access to medical treatment."

The senators also quote Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's Jan. 30 statement, when she said, "The status quo is unsustainable.... The longer the Assad regime continues its attacks on the Syrian people and stands in the way of a peaceful transition, the greater the concern that instability will escalate and spill over throughout the region."

Posted in accordance with Title 17, Section 107, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.

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