America and the Al-Qaeda Boogeyman
As we assess the situation in Syria, there are several important indications that we must pause at and contemplate. In my opinion, the most serious one among them is a recent statement made by the director of US National Intelligence James Clapper on the situation in that country.
Clapper stated beyond any doubt that the information available to his agency indicates that there are forces other than the regular Syrian Army using violence against civilians. He said these forces belong to the Al-Qaeda Organization and that, as he put it, they made a clear infiltration of the armed opposition in Syria.
The US intelligence agency chief expressed his concern over the growing presence of Al-Qaeda in Syria. He said a lot of these forces came from bases in Iraq.
It is recalled that the organizations that are loyal to Al-Qaeda intellectually and practically and in terms of funding were in an open-ended war against the Al-Maliki regime and all his security agencies, including the police and army, and against the US Army forces before their withdrawal.
Here emerge the following fundamental questions that we need to carefully ponder:
1. Has the US Administration been convinced of the Russian intelligence information that Russia exchanged with Washington on Moscow’s fears of the increasing activity of Al-Qaeda?
2. If Washington has been convinced of this information, will it postpone the United States’ decision, albeit temporarily, to work with full force to bring down the regime of President Bashar al-Assad under the principle of “the devil that we know is better than the devil we do not know?”
3. Will Washington shift from the term “Syria without the Al-Assad regime” to the view that Syria should be reformed through the Al-Assad gateway?
Experiences, particularly recently, taught us that the US Administration has no constant stand on alliances or state of hostility and that Washington can change its stands overnight.
On this basis, the true US policy toward Damascus in the next few weeks must be followed carefully.