Syria: West is making one giant mistake

By John R Bradley, December 20, 2012

Is the NATO-sponsored Syrian uprising the West’s biggest Middle East foreign policy blunder since the 1956 Suez Crisis?

What is certain is that tens of thousands of jihadis are now doing almost all the fighting on the ground in Syria, whose army has not fired a single bullet in Israel’s direction since 1967.

These bearded bigots are brazenly declaring their intention to attack Israel and the West after seizing control.

Last month, in an attempt to marginalise the jihadis, Nato and its Arab allies, Saudi Arabia and Qatar, created a Syrian government-in-exile, the National Coalition, presenting it as a pluralistic, inclusive group.

But its leader, Ahmed Moaz Al-Khatib, is himself an Islamist crackpot, whose writings display a vitriolic hatred of Shias, Alawites and Jews. He has called for an Islamist state, and has close ties to the Muslim Brotherhood.

But even his appointment did not pacify the al-Qaeda-affiliated groups inside Syria, who denounced him as a Western stooge.

The Obama administration’s decision to designate an al-Qaeda outfit, the Al-Nusra Front, as a terrorist outfit, was meanwhile taken just as the latter took control of a major military base outside Aleppo. Dozens of other Syrian-based Islamist terror groups immediately pledged their allegiance to Al-Nusra.

As did Mr Khatib — mindful, presumably, that a string of leaders of the Nato-backed regime in Libya have been assassinated over the past year.

But an al-Qaeda base in Syria poses a much graver threat to Israel than does distant Libya. And it seems less likely that the West and a Nato puppet regime would be able to control the jihadis, if the Assad regime collapses, than they are able to do in Libya.

All this while Jordan is threatened by an Islamist takeover, Egypt’s lawless Sinai region is swarming with jihadis, Hizbollah is as strong as ever, Hamas has not been significantly weakened by Israel’s recent Gaza offensive, and Islamists are being swept to power everywhere else in the Arab world.

In the name of weakening Iran, which poses no immediate threat to Israel, Nato and its Middle East allies have unleashed the biggest threat to the Jewish state’s existence since 1948.

John R Bradley’s latest book is ‘After the Arab Spring’

Last updated: 2:16pm, December 20 2012