Al Qaeda grows powerful in Syria as endgame nears

Khaled Yacoub Oweis
December 20, 2012

Having seen its star wane in Iraq, al Qaeda has staged a comeback in neighbouring Syria, posing a dilemma for the opposition fighting to remove President Bashar al-Assad and making the West balk at military backing for the revolt.

The rise of al Qaeda’s affiliate in Syria, al-Nusra Front, which the United States designated a terrorist organisation last week, could usher in a long and deadly confrontation with the West, and perhaps Israel.

Inside Syria, the group is exploiting a widening sectarian rift to recruit Sunnis who saw themselves as disenfranchised by Assad’s Alawite minority, an offshoot of Shi’ite Islam that dominates Syria’s power and security structures.

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