Will Al-Qaeda Cement Its Foothold in Syria?

(Christian Science Monitor) Fawaz A. Gerges - Al-Qaeda has never been a key player in Syria, but the country has now become a proxy battlefield in which the group is laboring very hard to find a new refuge, and to portray itself as a guardian of Sunni Muslims - objectives that lie in stark contrast to those of the majority of Syrian protesters. Increasing evidence points toward the arrival in the country of jihadist fighters from Iraq, Lebanon, Libya, and elsewhere. There is consensus among American and Western intelligence services that al-Qaeda fighters have reached Syria and have joined the fray. So far, the evidence shows that ordinary Sunnis in Syria see al-Qaeda as a liability, not an asset. The Free Syrian Army has said al-Qaeda is not welcome in the country, and that it will militarily confront it. The writer is a professor of international relations at the London School of Economics where he directs the Middle East Centre.

2012-06-01 00:00:00

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