Al-Qaeda Is Resurgent And Despair Spreading Across The Middle East Posing A Real Threat
While Osama bin Laden’s al-Qaeda may be dead, neither the organization, nor the belief that has inspired its radical followers is not. In fact, al-Qaeda is now a resurgent and growing movement.
“As 2014 begins, the picture is very different from 2011. Most dramatic has been the rise of al-Qaeda-affiliates in the Fertile Crescent, from Beirut to Baghdad. Al-Qaeda in Iraq, once wrongly proclaimed defeated by the surge, has revived and is more deadly than ever as the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS). Today, it is fighting again to take control of the Anbar province. It successfully gave birth to a Syrian franchise, Jabhat al-Nusra, and now competes and collaborates with its own offspring for power in Syria. Together, ISIS and Jabhat al-Nusra are trying to destroy the century-old borders of the region, erasing the hated Sykes-Picot boundaries drawn by London and Paris in the aftermath of World War I. Thousands of jihadis from across the Muslim world, many of them from Europe, have flocked to Syria to join the fight against Bashar al-Assad’s regime. Sunni-Shiite sectarian violence is multiplying, feeding a fire that al-Qaeda has long stoked,” reports Bruce Reidel in al-Monitor.
Reidel sees Egypt as one of the most vulnerable nations in the region, while adding that the failure of the Arab revolution and increasing dissatisfaction is serving as a powerful lure for the organization. Almost 20 people died in clashes over the weekend in Egypt as protestors demanded the return of Mohammed Morsi to office.
“In the dismal refugee camps of Syrians in exile in Jordan and Turkey, in the wastelands of the slums of Cairo and Alexandria and across Arabia, the Arab Awakening has produced only frustration, humiliation and despair for far too many whose hopes were raised three years ago. The Arab Awakening is not over, and its final outcome is far from clear, but today the safest prediction is that the fourth generation of al-Qaeda is already forming in the refugee camps and slums across the Middle East.”
The terrorist group on Friday reclaimed the Iraqi town of Fallujah on Friday two years after American forces waged a bloody battle in which hundreds lost their lives.
The involvement of radicalists like al-Qaeda loyalists and other groups is contributing to a growing sense that the Middle East is – again – susceptible to a broader war, in part because of the failure of Western nations to deal with Syria, contends The Washington Post editorial board.
“For Mr. Obama, the presence of al-Qaeda has been a reason to withhold U.S. aid to rebels fighting the Assad regime and to reject more forceful measures to bring the war to an end. That policy has left his administration without a strategy for preventing the terrorists from consolidating a safe haven in Syria and extending their influence to Lebanon and Iraq — where the gains painfully won by U.S. troops are being reversed. The administration has supplied some arms and intelligence to Iraqi government forces fighting al-Qaeda, but that is little more than a palliative. Sooner or later the United States will have to face the threat to its vital interests emerging across the Levant,” the editors write.
Russian and Iranian support remains the key to Syrian dictator Bashir al-Assad’s ability to retain power to date, reports The Christian Science Monitor.
“Key to Assad’s survival thus far is the military assistance provided by Iran and Russia. Assad’s Syria is a vital ally of Iran, forming the cornerstone of an alliance to challenge Israel and Western policies in the Middle East that also includes Lebanon’s powerful Shiite militant group Hezbollah.
“In an effort to shore up the Assad regime, Hezbollah has dispatched its crack fighters into Syria to battle rebel forces. They have fought in the Damascus suburbs, they retook the border town of Qusayr near Homs in June, and they are currently spearheading an offensive to regain the strategic Qalamoun area north of the capital. Alongside Hezbollah are several Iraqi Shiite militia expeditionary forces. The Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) reportedly has provided arms, training of paramilitary forces, and advice to the Syrian Army.”