Al Qaeda in Northern Syria Concerning Turkey's PM, One of the Rebels' Strongest Allies

Credit: Senat RP/Polish Senate/wikimediaCredit: Senat RP/Polish Senate/wikimediaTurkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, one of the strongest allies of Assad’s opposition, is increasingly concerned about the presence of Al Qaeda-linked rebels in northern Syria, who are trying to establish a foothold in the region.  

According to UPI, the Al Qaeda Iraqi affiliate, the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS), is fighting other rebels, including jihadis, in their attempt to secure areas in the north of Syria. Writing at Foreign Policy, the New American Foundation's Barak Barfi and the Washington Institute for Near East Policy's Aaron Y. Zelin have highlighted that ISIS, although a comparatively small rebel group, includes experienced fighters:

ISIS is thought to count 5,000 to 6,000 fighters within its ranks. That means it's a lot smaller than other rebel groups, such as the hard-line Salafi Syrian Islamic Front, which boasts 15,000 to 20,000 fighters. But ISIS has one important advantage: Many of its members have previously fought in other jihads, including in Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen, and Libya.

Since the conflict in Syria began Turkey has demonstrated a willingness to shoot at Syrian forces across the border. However, as The New York Times reports, this week marked the first time that Turkish forces shelled a position in Syria occupied by jihadis. The New York Times goes on to report that the Turkish had been hoping for an escalation of U.S. intervention in Syria in response to the chemical attacks in Damascus suburbs last August. However, instead of military strikes a chemical weapons deal was agreed to, and Western strikes were not carried out.

Other supporters of Assad’s opposition, such as Saudi Arabia, have made their frustrations with a lack of intervention known. Today it was announced that Saudi Arabia will not be taking its seat on the United Nations Security Council, protesting the lack of intervention in Syria.

Saudi Arabia has been sending arms to some of the moderate opposition in Syria, in the hope of helping topple the Iran-supported Assad regime, despite the fact that Assad’s opposition includes Sunni jihadis, many of whom are not fans of the Saudi ruling family.

A Western military intervention in Syria is inconceivable as long as the current chemical weapons agreement is being implemented. However, Turkey and Saudi Arabia have both shown that they are willing to get involved in the conflict, and this involvement could escalate if Al Qaeda-linked rebels continue to seize territory in northern Syria.

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  • Irish||

    This is totally unrelated, but I just saw Reason's ATF cigarette video on Youtube, and guess who showed up!

    KizoneKaprow 10 minutes ago
    For an even MORE entertaining echo chamber of comically impotent narcissists, visit Hit & Run, America's Libertarian Chatroom™.

    IT'S MARY! Be honest, which of you gave Mary upvotes on her comment? She has three, but no one else on the video seems to be agreeing with her, so I assume that someone did it as a joke.

    Then again, knowing Mary's crazy obsession, she could just be running multiple youtube accounts to upvote herself.

  • ||

    Think about how obsessed she is. Registration destroyed her pathetic griefing, totally and utterly, and she still knows what goes on here within the last few hours if not minutes. It's complete and total insane obsession. I find it absolutely hilarious. I love when stupid obsessed losers get stuffed. It's all just so delicious.

  • anon||

    To be fair, we are pretty comically impotent.

  • some guy||

    Speak for yourself, narcissist!

  • Irish||

    I'm too perfect to be a narcissist.

  • Killazontherun||

    In a world of a few billion people accessing blogs there are maybe a few thousand writers who are potent in having a larger effect on society outside of their circle, so the insult doesn't even make any logical sense. Never claimed to be in communication with you to make you and the rest of the world my slaves, but hey, that does reveal something about the proggie mindset that not striving for that goal is considered socially ineffectual behavior, does it not?

  • Tonio||

    Why so serious?

  • Killazontherun||

    Before the daily constitutional, there is no levity.

  • Tonio||

    TMI, bro...

  • Killazontherun||

    That's the risk that you take when you ask.

  • Dweebston||

    I'm less confused by the Mary persona than I am its insistence on calling the comment threads here a chatroom. Crazy and infantile I get, but deliberately, nonsensically wrong is just weird.

  • Tonio||

    Because for that type of person when you can't win on the merits you resort to insults.

  • Pro Libertate||

  • Square||

    Oddly enough, I think this is the only real solution to the problem. The West has been obsessed with carving the area up into smaller and smaller territorialities where they haven't existed in hundreds if not thousands of years. It's like making the US into 50 different nations with borders drawn essentially at random and then wondering why conflict results.

    A lot of why Syria is such a mess is that Antioch, which has been the capital of Syria for several thousand years, was cut off from Syria by the French at the end of WWI and ceded to Turkey. That's sort of like cutting off San Francisco from the rest of Northern CA and ceding it to a different, hostile country. Stupid beyond belief.

    When talk of Turkey joining the EU started, though, it occurred to me that Turkey if joins, the next conversation is about Syria, Lebanon and Israel. Rejoining Turkey, Syria, Lebanon, Israel, and Egypt under the umbrella of the EU may well solve a lot of problems in the region.

  • Dweebston||

    You know what other small outfit of armed agents going by that name manages to cause untold catastrophe every time it's fielded?

  • Tonio||

    Danger zone!

  • BakedPenguin||

    However, Turkey and Saudi Arabia have both shown that they are willing to get involved in the conflict...

    Better them than us.

  • Ken Shultz||

    Whatever happens, it doesn't seem like Syria's going to look like it did back before the Arab Spring anytime soon.

  • Ken Shultz||

    "Today it was announced that Saudi Arabia will not be taking its seat on the United Nations Security Council, protesting the lack of intervention in Syria."

    They look at things differently than we do.

  • Ken Shultz||

    They've been screaming about not having enough say in what happens at the UN for how long?

    They get a chance to have all kinds of influence, and then they piss it away to make some kind of point--that no one else but them seems to understand.

    They could vote against China and Russia. When China and Russia need their votes for something, they could horse trade with China and Russia over issues like Syria...

    But nooooOOOooooo.

  • Killazontherun||

    You should be worried, you stupid fuck. Your nation is a tasty lamb chop to salivate over for the Islamist fundies, and democracy is the soft underbelly of your society where the slicing begins.

  • Tonio||

    You mean the Saudis or the AQ-affiliated rebels? Oops, we're not supposed to say that about the Saudis. My bad.

  • Ken Shultz||

    Yeah, if you're the Saudis, being on the same side as the AQ, on certain things, probably isn't a bad idea. I mean, why wouldn't you want AQ to see you as objectively being on your side on Assad?

    Of course, that would never work with the United States because...

    Well just because!

  • Square||

    Al-Qaeda is quite specifically opposed to and oriented toward deposing the Saudi Royal family. AQ sees them as having betrayed their duty to defend the holy land against unbelievers when they invited the heathen US to defend them against Iraq, a fellow Muslim country, which is a no-no per the Koran.

    That was, in fact, the reason AQ was founded in the first place.

  • Tonio||

    True, but you don't see them doing any ops on Saudi soil or against Saudi interests. So while I'm sure that reclaiming their holy sites remains a goal, it's very much in the "to be done later category."

    And the US isn't "heathen" (multiple gods, non-abrahamic), we're infidel (right god, but worshipped in the wrong way).

  • Killazontherun||

    ^This. Its pretty clear on the mutual goal of destroying the political base of secular Arabs, the Saudis and AQ are willing to cast aside their differences and work together. How far we have aided and abetted due to the ignorance of our policy makers is disgusting.

  • Square||

    In what way, exactly, have the Saudis and AQ been working together?

  • Square||

    Clearly taking down the Saudis is not "To-Do Item No. 1," but my point was just that they're not allies, by definition in the case of AQ.

    And yes, I did not use the term "heathen" in its technically correct sense.

  • Spoonman.||

    That is just not true. AQ has attacked Saudi Arabia.

  • Square||

    There is that, too, but I think it's been a while since they've attacked in earnest. I don't really keep up on the Saudi papers anymore, though, so I may be out of the loop.

  • Square||

    Does anyone else find it hilarious that an Islamic fundamentalist terrorist organization named itself after the ancient Egyptian pagan goddess of love?

  • Tonio||

    Perhaps that acronym doesn't work out that way in arabic.

  • Killazontherun||

    To be fair, three thousand years ago she was legit and not pagan at all.

  • Loki||

    Al Qaeda in Northern Syria Concerning Turkey's PM

    Is there any reason for us to give a shit what concerns the Turkish PM?

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