Leader of Al Qaeda-Linked Group in Syria Calls For Ceasefire Within Assad's Opposition

Credit: ISIL/wikimediaCredit: ISIL/wikimediaThe leader of Jabhat al-Nusra, the Al Qaeda-linked rebel group fighting against the Assad regime, has called for an end to the recent violence that has erupted between different factions of Assad’s opposition.

In an audio recording Jabhat al-Nusra’s leader, Abu Mohammed al-Golani, blames much of the recent violence on another group with links to Al Qaeda, the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). Reuters has been unable to confirm the authenticity of the recording, but reported that "it was posted on a Twitter account used by the Nusra Front."

Rebels in Syria recently killed 34 foreign Al Qaeda-linked fighters, most of whom were reportedly from ISIL.  

ISIL recently took control of the Iraqi city of Fallujah, which is less than 50 miles west of Baghdad, and has taken over parts of Ramadi, which like Fallujah is in the Sunni majority Anbar province. According to an Iraqi military spokesman, Al Qaeda-linked fighters have set up a government in Fallujah and are the only source of order there.

As Reuters’ reporting explains, ISIL’s activities in Iraq are only part of a wider goal, namely the creation of “a radical Islamic state out of the chaos of neighbouring Syria's civil war.”

Unsurprisingly, Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) have blamed President Obama for the fall of Fallujah, calling the situation “predictable.”

In their statement, McCain and Graham, who have both argued for arming rebels in Syria, also say that the Obama administration’s policy in Syria has failed. It is worth keeping in mind that were the U.S. to have sent the weapons McCain and Graham wanted to rebels in Syria there would have been a chance that the weapons would eventually end up in the hands of ISIL, who are now in control of Fallujah.

The news from the last few days has highlighted that groups like ISIL are not ones that the U.S. should risk inadvertently supporting.

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  • Fist of Etiquette||

    "We can resume the struggle for control amongst ourselves once Assad is out of the picture."

  • Ken Shultz||

    "It is worth keeping in mind that were the U.S. to have sent the weapons McCain and Graham wanted to rebels in Syria there would have been a chance that the weapons would eventually end up in the hands of ISIL, who are now in control of Fallujah."

    Are we talking about small arms here? Are we afraid that "Al Qaeda linked" groups (Oh, I'm so scared!) are going to use small arms against us here in the United States? We're not talking about them getting anti-aircraft systems or Stinger missiles, are we?

    IF IF IF, it's in our best interests to give small arms to the rebels in Syria, it may still be in our interests to do so--even if those arms ended up in Iraq. I happen to believe that it was in our best interest to arm the Mujaheddin way back when--even after 9/11, and this is the same sort of thing.

  • ||

    "Are we talking about small arms here?"

    If you were in NYC you would be scared.

  • Ken Shultz||

    If you're being facetious, then that's funny!

    If you're being serious, then...

    I lived and worked on the edge of what they used to call South Central LA for years. I heard gun shots almost every night, and I wasn't scared.

    Also (if you're being serious), one of my biggest criticisms of the Bush Administration was the way they made a virtue out of cowardice. In their paradigm, if you didn't support whatever they wanted to do, then you weren't sufficiently frightened. Somehow, that all morphed into, "I'm so manly--because I'm scared shitless of terrorists. If you're not so scared of terrorists that you'll let the president do whatever he wants, then you're not manly. You're a coward!"

    American men didn't used to be that way.

    Fear isn't just the mind-killer. It robs men of their masculinity and their freedom.

    But I'm sure you were just being sarcastic.

  • Ken Shultz||

    There are some weird subconscious things banging around in our collective memory, where we know consciously that certain things various administrations told us weren't true--but we still believe them.

    The bigger long term security threat to the United States is not Al Qaeda. It is Iran, and its allies, and by its allies, I mean Syria and Iraq, too.

    We were told that the strategic enemy of the United States in the region was Saddam Hussein--because he had a WMD program and because he had made Iraq a safe place for Al Qaeda. That was ALL FALSE.

    If the real long term threat is Iran, and IF IF IF arming Syrian rebels is the least expensive, most effective, least intrusive, viable response to that threat, then we should be arming the rebels--even if there's a risk some of those arms may end up being used against Iraqi security forces.

  • The Last American Hero||

    How about we just apply the Prime Directive already and quit playing Lawrence of Arabia?

  • Ken Shultz||

    That would be fine if it weren't for Iran's nuclear and long range missile programs.

    The estimates I've seen suggest that Iran will have an ICBM by sometime between 2015 and 2020.

    I lived under the threat of nuclear annihilation from the Soviet Union, and we won that war--largely through proxies. But there's no reason to think a nuclear standoff with Iran would end with a whimper, like the Cold War did.

    I'd much rather form a trade relationship with Iran and, hopefully, see our respective security interests align in the interest of trade, much like what happened between us and China. But the idea that if we'd just be nice, maybe they'd go away is...not only dangerous, but might lead to a war in which we're involved directly rather than just by proxy.

    So many of us are looking at financing the rebels as a prelude to war; I think, in this case, it could and should be seen as an alternative to going to war. Iran is scared to death of what is happening in Syria, and if other people are willing to fight our battles for us, then for goodness' sake, let's let them.

    By no means should they be allowed to enrich their own uranium.

  • Cabeza de Vaca||

    Ken,
    Since radical Shia Islam is a small faction compared to radical Sunni Islam. Siding with the radical Sunni's is really dangerous and stupid. America's alliance with radical Sunnis like the Saudi's is one of the dumbest things our government has ever done. Saudi Arabia is just as big of a threat to the west as Iran.

  • Ken Shultz||

    One of the reasons why Iran getting a nuke would be such bad news, both for American security interests and the world, is because if Iran got a nuke, there's no way--no way--the Saudis wouldn't go after one of their own, too.

    "Saudi Arabia is just as big of a threat to the west as Iran."

    Not if they don't have nukes and ICBMs, they're not.

    One of the things we lost with the Cold War was our sense of proportion. Sometimes, we react as if Al Qaeda or terrorism are a bigger threat than the Soviet Union was, and that's just plain false. Whatever security threat you think Saudis and terrorists pose to American interests, they're nothing compared to the threat a nuclear Iran with an ICBM would pose.

    I think it would be worse than during the Cold War.

    The Soviets abandoned their ideology, but it had only been used in practice for about 70 years at the time. The Iranians' ideology comes straight from the mouth of God.

  • Cabeza de Vaca||

    Supporting either sect of militant fundamentalist Islam miltarily. Is extremely short sighted and dangerous. Giving religious fanatics weapons is not smart in the long run. Yes they might fight our enemies for us, but they also use those weapons to suppress individuals within their society's & outside their society's that don't sure thief extremist faith. People forget Wahabbist Islam ruling Arabia is less than 100 years old & most likely not be the ruling party now without America selling & giving them tanks & jet fighters.

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