This morning Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) sent the following tweet:
The Daily Beast article by Bruce Riedel discusses Jabhat al Nusra, the Al Qaeda-linked terror group that is fighting against the Assad regime in Syria. The article mentions al Nusra’s growing influence and that Al Qaeda's strength in the region will increase as the conflict in Syria continues. One of the most interesting sections of the article is the following:
For now the jihadists are focused on Syria and winning the war against Assad. But their ambitions are much larger. With a base in Syria they can threaten American interests in the entire Levant region, Europe, and our allies in Turkey, Jordan, and Israel. The worst danger is that the al Nusra front will get control of some of Syria’s large chemical weapons arsenal. Bashar’s father, Hafez al-Assad, built major chemical-weapon capability in the 1980s, including the deadly nerve agent sarin, which was first developed by the Nazis. Al Qaeda has been trying to get a weapon of mass destruction for years. Now in Syria it may be closer than ever.
It is interesting that Sen. McCain would cite this article as a “must-read” considering that he is a proponent of arming the Syrian opposition by working with "'third-world countries' and the Arab League." If the U.S. were to send arms to the Syrian opposition, even while trying to make sure the weapons do not end up in the hands of jihadists, it is hard to imagine that some of these weapons would not find their way to al Nusra and similar groups. By sending arms to rebels in Syria the U.S. could very well end up aiding organizations that wish to harm the U.S. and its allies after Assad is removed from power.
Unfortunately for interventionists like Sen. McCain both the Assad regime and its opposition include groups that are not fans of the U.S. Assad is being supported by Iran and Hezbollah while his opposition includes groups like al Nusra. If the rebels overthrow Assad it will be in large part thanks to the efforts of jihadist fighters. If the rebels overthrow Assad with arms supplied with the help of the U.S. what is the interventionist strategy then, are we then supposed to engage in another set of operations to address the jihadist influence in a post-war Syria? Given the growing jihadist influence in Syria it is hard to see why a Syria after Assad will necessarily be better for the national security of the U.S. and its allies.