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Obama scrambles to stop Al Qaida takeover of Syrian opposition

Special to WorldTribune.com

WASHINGTON — The United States, alarmed by the creeping takeover of
Al Qaida, has again dangled an offer of weapons to a unified Syrian
opposition.

Diplomatic sources said the administration of U.S. President Barack
Obama has drafted a plan that envisions the delivery of a range of weapons
and military equipment to the Syrian opposition. The source said the offer
was conditioned on a new pro-Western opposition that could gain control of
most of the Sunni rebel movement.

Free Syrian Army fighters make their way to fight government troops at the air base near Idlib. /Reuters

“This is probably the last chance Washington and NATO allies have before the entire rebel movement falls to Al Qaida elements,” a diplomat said.

The sources said Washington has been dismayed by the infighting within the opposition as well as its lack of control over the rebels in Syria. They said Washington as well as several European Union allies agreed that the leadership vacuum has facilitated the widespread influence of jihad fighters financed by Qatar and Saudi Arabia and linked to Al Qaida.

One proposal being studied was the formation of a united rebel
leadership that would include the Free Syrian Army, regional militias and opposition politicians deemed pro-West. The sources said several NATO allies, including the United States, have suggested that this could warrant
a decision to send anti-tank and anti-aircraft missiles to the Sunni rebels.

The offer of weapons comes amid a new drive by Washington to form a
unified opposition movement. The sources said the State Department,
particularly Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, has disassociated itself
from the Syrian National Council, aligned with the Muslim Brotherhood.

“Plan A, which was to create the SNC, went down in dust,” Joshua Landis,
a leading U.S. analyst close to the State Department, said. “By all
accounts, Clinton cannot even stand to hear the name, SNC, uttered any
longer.”

Landis, a professor who runs the influential Syria Comment website, said
Ms. Clinton, together with Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Turkey, wants to
establish a leadership comprised of pro-Western Syrian opposition figures.
He said the State Department and CIA have been concerned over the rising Al
Qaida-influence of rebel militia commanders.

“The object of this exercise seems to be to glue some sort of
U.S.-friendly educated elite onto the military effort that looks too
Islamist for Washington’s taste and not very human-rights observant,” Landis
said.

The sources said any new U.S.-organized opposition was likely to be
boycotted by Brotherhood elements. They said Qatar, which hosted an
opposition parley in early November, was still trying to expand SNC to
include secular elements and rebel militias.

“The main aim is to expand the council to include more of the social and
political components,” SNC chairman Abdul Basset Sieda said. “There will be
new forces in the SNC.”

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1 Comment for “Obama scrambles to stop Al Qaida takeover of Syrian opposition”

  1. The US is concerned over the possibility of Al Queda gaining power in Syria because Al Queda wants to impose the Shariah, destroy Israel, and kill infidels, no matter who or where they may be. Obama and Clinton would rather have the Muslim Brotherhood gain power. Of course, the Muslim Brotherhood has declared that it will impose the Shariah, it has long called for the destruction of Israel, and it has preached death to infidels. The difference is that, hopefully, Al Queda doesn’t have a buddy in the Obama Administration.

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