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Using Al Qaida as an alibi

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Mohammad Fadhel Al Obaidly

Advisor, Public Opinion Research Center

Tag: Dubai United Arab Emirates
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A few months after the 2003 invasion, the scene Iraqi was reminiscent of the wild, creative imagination of Francis Ford Cappola in his masterpiece Apocalypse Now. From the smoke of the bombs and missiles that covered Iraq that time, a question stood out: who was fighting the Americans?
While everybody was trying hard to understand the mess in Iraq, we got a clue: Americans are trying to attract radical Islamists militants to Iraq, to turn the country into a battle field against terrorism. Within few weeks, the list of enemies grew, but what was once a patriotic resistance in the beginning took the backseat for a sweeping new comer. The guest who was invited and accepted the invitation: Al Qaida. So, after months of talking with a great deal of confidence about attacks of a dying regime, Iraqi and American officials changed the tone and the enemy: it was now Al Qaida.
When we recall the alibi used by the Bush administration for going to war in Iraq, which centered around claims of a link between Saddam Hussains regime and Al Qaida, and the subsequent confession by Bush himself that these links could never be proved, the clue about attracting Al Qaida to Iraq seems like a logical conclusion.
History shows that some of any successful practice in political struggle would become later a timeless rule. We must remember that many are still playing by the rules of Hitlers propaganda minister Joseph Geobbels, including those in democracies such as the US. He said that if you told a lie big enough and kept repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it. Thus, sometimes what sounds unbelievable in the beginning becomes true later.
I am not arguing here that Al Qaida is a group of ghosts or a scarecrow, but wondering about a new rule: inviting Al Qaida when necessary. Thats what happened in Iraq and its obvious that the Syrian regime is inspired by this rule. If we consider the regimes propaganda as a typical reaction to the protests, the continuity of such propaganda is just a repeated invitation to extremists to get involved in the conflict.
Now, Al Qaida is there somehow. Bbut what will be the the consequences of its presence? We are seeing peaceful civilian protests and its power is its ethical superiority. Surely, the presence of Al Qaida would never serve the uprising because it will turn the struggle into a campaign of terror. Who benefits from Al Qaida becoming a key player in Syria? The regime could never dream of a gift more valuable than fighting Al Qaida.
Again, history shows us that armed action might help when it is accompanied by political moves, but this is a far cry from Al Qaida tactics and policies. Al Qaida has no political strategy and the aims of Syrian uprising democracy, liberties, socioeconomic development and social justice are not its priority or part of its agenda. Sooner or later, Syrians will find themselves between the heavy hammer of the regime and the anvil of Al Qaida. The regime has been pushing the situation in this direction from the beginning.
To imagine ascenario wherein Al Qaida ends up playing an active role in Syria, just remember the Armageddon horror in Iraq from 2003 until recently. But the Syrian version of this Armageddon horror would be worse than the Iraqi one. The country will be in turmoil scenario, which the Israelis are praying for. Two days after the Al Houla massacre, the country with one of the bloodiest records of killing civilians condemned the massacre and accused the Syrian army. We better not forget the Israelis. Sooner or later; you will find more of their finger prints in Syria by two means: action on the ground (car bombs, assassinations etc.), and stories they are planting in international and the Arab media.
Struggle for Syria in the new version amounts to more than local parties acting on behalf of superpowers or regional powers through military coups, as was the case decades ago. In present times, regional intervention would easily hijack the uprising through greater militarisation. Whenever violence/militarisation is escalates, the more it will push the uprising behind.


Published in Gulf News June 4 2012

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