This is awkward.
By bombing Islamic terrorists in Syria, Russia has exposed the US’s war on terror for what it really is–a war of terror. The dirty little secret of the Syrian conflict is that the US and their allies have been employing the Nusra Front, which is the al Qaeda’s affiliate in Syria, as their proxy force to bring about regime change there.
Here’s Marcy at Emptywheel deconstructing this hairball.
“This attempt to distinguish ISIS from the CIA-backed rebels will quickly lead to an awkward place for the Administration and its allies, not least because making any distinction will require providing details on the vetting process used to select these forces, as well as addressing the evidence of cooperation with ISIS or traditional al Qaeda in the past. Plus, the more the US argues these groups that aren’t entirely distinct from al Qaeda are entirely distinct from ISIS, it will make the Administration’s claim that the 2001 AUMF against Al Qaeda authorizes it to fight ISIS (in related news, DOJ just denied USAT’s FOIA request for 3 OLC documents making that case) really wobbly.”
This might mean that the Obama Administration will have to tell the American people that the war on terror is a giant hoax.
Man, the neoconservatives are going to be pissed, as their beloved regime change operation in Syria just got a lot more complicated. Shit, imagine the language that Victoria Nuland is using around the dinner table tonight with hubby Robert Kagen. I bet the expletives are really flying.
Update: Veteran journalist Robert Parry has much more on how the neoconservatives have turned justifications for the war on terror upside down in their efforts to overthrow the Syrian government.
“Ultimately, President Barack Obama will have to decide if he wants to cooperate with Russia and Iran in beating back Al Qaeda, the Islamic State and other jihadists – or realign U.S. policy in accord with Israel’s obsession with “regime change” in Syria, even if that means a victory by Al Qaeda. In other words, should the United States come full circle in the Middle East and help Al Qaeda win?”
Update 2: Here’s B, at Moon of Alabama, discussing in much more detail US and Israeli support of Al Qaeda terrorists in Syria.
The CIA mercenaries in Syria – 10,000 men trained, armed and paid under a secret program – are directly cooperating with al-Qaeda and the likewise terrorist Ahrar al Shams. The NYT finally acknowledges this in two pieces today. The first says:
The fighters advancing on that [northern] front were not from the Islamic State but from the Army of Conquest, a group that includes an affiliate of Al Qaeda known as the Nusra Front and other Islamist groups, including several more secular groups that have been covertly armed and trained by the United States.
The Israelis are now also admitting that they work with al-Qaeda:
Together with some local militias Nusra is in charge of most of the 100-kilometer border with Israel on the Syria side of the Golan Heights. In recent years, Nusra slightly toned down its militant ideology due to the influence of Qatar and Saudi Arabia, which provide it with financial support.
Nusra is in control of most of the border but so far has reached a tacit understanding not to turn its weapons against the Jewish state.