December 11, 2012
State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland said Monday Bashar al-Assad is responsible for the presence of the terrorist group al-Nusra in Syria.
“We’ve had concerns that al-Nusra is little more than a front for al-Qaeda in Iraq who has moved some of its operations into Syria,” Nuland said during a news conference.
The U.S. has yet to designate the al-Nusra Front as a terrorist organization. It made a move in that direction by publishing a declaration concerning the group in the Federal Register, the AFP reports today.
Nuland said the State Department would “have more to say about this” in the coming days.
Formally declaring the group a “foreign terrorist organization” would allow the government to freeze its assets and outlaw transactions by Americans to the group.
The U.S. Treasury moved to shut down the group by imposing sanctions on Tuesday. It also blacklisted two Syrian government groups, Jaysh al-Sha’bi and Shabiha.
CNN notes today “the radical Islamist al-Nusra Front has emerged as one of the most effective groups in the Syrian resistance, drawing on foreign fighters with combat experience in Iraq and elsewhere.”
The “combat experience” gleaned from Iraq includes targeting U.S. soldiers.
On December 8, the New York Times reported:
The Nusra Front’s ally, Al Qaeda in Iraq, is the Sunni insurgent group that killed numerous American troops in Iraq and sowed widespread sectarian strife with suicide bombings against Shiites and other religious and ideological opponents. The Iraqi group played an active role in founding the Nusra Front and provides it with money, expertise and fighters, said Maj. Faisal al-Issawi, an Iraqi security official who tracks jihadi activities in Iraq’s Anbar Province (emphasis added).
Following the State Department move, 29 opposition groups signed a petition calling for mass demonstrations in support of al-Nusra. The petition promotes the slogan “No to American intervention, for we are all Jabhat al-Nusra” and urges supporters to “raise the Jabhat al-Nusra flag” as a “thank you,” according to The Age.
Undermining the effectiveness of the so-called Syrian resistance will ultimately lead to direct intervention by the United States and NATO.
“Others have argued that one way to marginalize the jihadi groups is for the United States to arm the moderate and secular rebel groups or even establish a no-fly zone that would forcibly ground the Syrian Air Force,” the New York Times reported on Monday.
Excluding al-Nusra and al-Qaeda from the fight in Syria will not, however, change the ultimate result – enlarging the Shiite-Sunni divide and further empowering Wahhabi fanatics funded and supported by Saudi Arabia and the Gulf monarchies. Further religious and sectarian violence in the Middle East agitates order out chaos in favor of the ruling elite as it consolidates wealth and moves to capture strategic assets.