The group is a direct offshoot of Al Qaeda in Iraq, Iraqi officials and former Iraqi insurgents say, which has contributed veteran fighters and weapons. “This is just a simple way of returning the favor to our Syrian brothers that fought with us on the lands of Iraq,” said a veteran of Al Qaeda in Iraq, who said he helped lead the Nusra Front’s efforts in Syria. The United States, sensing that time may be running out for Syria’s president, Bashar al-Assad, hopes to isolate the group to prevent it from inheriting Syria or fighting on after Mr. Assad’s fall to pursue its goal of an Islamic state.It doesn't take a Henry Kissinger to figure out a likely strategy--allow the AQ jihadist groups (the best fighters) to topple the regimes then swoop in and isolate them after the battle is over. That seems precisely what our plan was in Libya--did it take the lives of the four in Benghazi? Sometimes useful idiots resent being played for useful idiots.
It's interesting that AQ in Iraq fighters were reportedly involved in Benghazi and now the Times is saying they are all over Syria as well. Any reader of this blog from the past might wonder about our old friend Izzat al-Duri, once in charge of Saddam's Revolutionary Command Council and after the war a wanted fugitive who has died several times while popping up every now and again in phantom sitings and belligerent recordings. Since he was once reported to be hiding in Damascus one might wonder where he fits in with this recent Syrian thing--here's one opinion from the region:
As Reidar Visser notes, Douri's political outlook on the wider region reflects an alignment with the Sunni Arab states against the regime of Bashar al-Asad, together with an opposition to any perceived Israeli, American, and Iranian interference in regional affairs. Thus, he is critical of the intervention against the Qaddafi regime, which entailed NATO airstrikes against loyalist forces, but at the same time he praises the Saudi king for trying to resolve the political crisis in Yemen. His criticism of the Syrian government means that it is unlikely that he is in Syria. Instead, a location in the Gulf area or the southern Arabian Peninsula seems to be most plausible, with Saudi Arabia or Yemen as possible hiding places.
The Allawite Syrian Ba'athists were not exactly buddy-buddy with the more-or-less-Sunni Iraqi Ba'athists. Not only that, but Assad's relationship with Tehran would make him a natural enemy of al-Duri. At the same time it's likely Izzat was himself treating the jihadists as useful enemies while in Iraq and probably doesn't want to see a Salafist takeover of the greater Middle East, so it's tempting to think the CIA might try to work with him.
In other words, the whole thing is as messy as ever. While it's tempting to continue hoisting the One on his own petard for condemning the Bush administration's efforts in the region as he deals with AQ blowback and WMDs the bottom line is a western victory (of sorts) in the aftermath of this Arab Spring. No doubt the AQ-backed rebels fighting in Syria are aware of their useful idiot status and plan to re-do the Iraqi insurgency in all the Arab Spring countries they are helping liberate if indeed we turn on them, which we will, so let's hope the reset administration has a double-secret plan to stop such a thing.