The Mainstreaming of Al-Qaeda

The US has encouraged its proxies in Syria to work with Al Qaeda’s affiliate in Syria, Nusra Front, and green-lighted the effort of Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar to fund the Army of Conquest, a coalition that includes Nusra Front.

As the United States effectively arms and allies with Al Qaeda, journalists, pundits, and policy makers in the west — including self-described socialists — have sought to depict it as an appealing alternative to ISIS. Nusra Front is, they maintain, increasingly moderate, pragmatic, and admirable as a fighting force.

“We We Need Al Qaeda”
“Accepting Al Qaeda”
“The Nusra Front’s Game-Changing Rise in Syria”
Sen McCain & Sec Carter seem to confirm existence of U.S. relationship with Syrian Army of Conquest- whose factions include al-Qaida’s affiliate Nusra

Wall Street Journal:
“Unlike Islamic State, Nusra is largely composed of Syrians, and its religious views, though certainly radical, aren’t nearly as extreme. While it has refrained from attacking Israel despite controlling towns along the demarcation line in the Golan Heights, the group has taken on Islamic State and has been willing to work with non-Islamist rebels.”

John McCain:

“There is success on the part of an outfit called the Army of Conquest, which is funded and trained and equipped generally — mostly by Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and perhaps others. They are succeeding.”

Bob Baer:
“al-Nusra is — I wouldn’t use the word moderate, but it is tamable. It’s not completely radical group. It does want connections with the outside world. I’ve been in touch with it indirectly a couple of years ago. They want to be accepted.”

James Stavridis, former commander of NATO:
“If our allies are working with [Al Qaeda], that is acceptable.”

Charles Lister:
“The group has evolved significantly throughout its existence in Syria and it is a well-known reality that a strong dose of pragmatism has ingratiated Jabhat al-Nusra with the opposition at large since late-2012.”

James Clapper:
“Moderate these days is increasingly becoming anyone who is not affiliated with ISIL.”

Michael Herzog:
“Nusra is a unique version of al Qaeda. They manage to cooperate with non-Islamist and non-jihadi organizations in one coalition. They are totally focused on the war in Syria and aren’t focused on us.”

Mozzam Begg:
“Ahrar al-Sham – part of the Islamic Front coalition – and Al-Qaeda’s Al Nusra Front are the largest, most effective opposition forces in Syria. They have been at the forefront in the fight against IS. Thousands of their members have been killed in battle, tortured, beheaded and crucified. Despite Al Nusra’s confirmation that Syria would not be used as a launchpad for attacks on the West both groups have been bombed by coalition forces…Arguably the most credible voices against IS have been Islamic clerics traditionally associated with Al-Qaeda.”

Ahmed Rashid:
“al-Nusra’s fighters 
are almost wholly Syrian, making them both more reliable and more committed to
 Syria’s future. Meanwhile, in interviews with Al Jazeera, al-Nusra leaders have vowed not to attack
 targets in the West, promoting an 
ideology that might be called “nationalist jihadism” rather than global jihad. In recent months, al-Nusra’s leaders
 have toned down 
the implementation of their own brutal version of Islamic law, while putting on hold 
their own plans of building a caliphate.”

Lina Khatib
“The West currently sees the Nusra Front as a threat. But Nusra’s pragmatism and ongoing evolution mean that it could become an ally in the fight against the Islamic State…Instead of putting Nusra and the Islamic State in the same basket, the West should look beyond the Nusra Front’s ideological affiliation and encourage its pragmatism as it seeks an end to the Syrian conflict.”

Louis Proyect
“I never found the presence of al-Nusra in Syria to be a game changer. If the FSA was willing to work with them, more power to them.”

Michael Karadjis

“Despite the jihadist JaN leadership, much of its ranks are decent revolutionaries, often former FSA cadre, just going where the money and arms are. Despite some its recent provocations–caused by the impact of ISIS’s victory in Mosul on the more jihadist parts of the JaN ranks), it still mostly fights the regime and ISIS. Attacking JaN is a way of attacking the revolution…”

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