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THE SYRIAN DILEMA

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The Iraqi branch of Al Qaeda – AQI carried out two recent bombings in Damascus and was likely behind suicide bombings on Friday in Halab that killed at least 28 people in the Syrian city of Aleppo, McClatchy Newspapers reported on Saturday 02/11/2012 (see – Halab 02.10.12 ).

Citing unnamed US officials, the newspaper chain said the incidents appeared to verify Syrian President Bashar Assad’s charges of Al Qaeda involvement in the uprising against his rule.

The Syrian opposition has claimed that the Assad regime had staged the bombings to discredit the pro-democracy movement, the report said.

The first Damascus attack occurred on 12/23/2011, when suicide bombers detonated cars packed with explosives outside intelligence agency compounds, killing at least 44 people (see -Damascus 12.23.11). On 01/06/2012 at least 26 people were killed and dozens injured in a bombing against a second intelligence agency compound (see – Damascus 01.06.12).

The Al Qaeda presence in Syria also raises the possibility that Islamic extremists will try to hijack the uprising, McClatchy Newspapers said.

US intelligence reports indicate that the bombings came on the orders of Ayman Al Zawahiri, the Egyptian who assumed leadership of Al Qaeda after the last year’s death of Osama Bin Laden, the newspaper chain noted.

US officials said that Al Qaeda in Iraq – AQI began pushing to become involved in Syria as Assad’s security forces and gangs of loyalists launched a crackdown on opposition demonstrations, igniting large-scale bloodshed, the report said.

Zawahiri finally authorized AQI to begin operations in Syria in what’s believed to be the first time that the branch has operated outside of Iraq, McClatchy Newspapers pointed out.

In all Arab uprisings in the recent year Islamists were the main driving force. They were also the main beneficiaries for the events now ruling Tunisia, running the government in Morocco and control the parliament and public opinion in Egypt. In Libya former Al Qaeda members are now senior Militia commanders like Abdelhakim Belhaj, who runs Tripoli’s militia.

In Syria the main opposition is comprised from the local branch of the Muslims Brotherhood and some even more radical Islamic groups, who are not seeking democracy bu Shariaa law in Syria. No wonder that Al Qaeda is trying to take advantage on the situation and no wonder that non Muslim minorities, like Druze and Christians as well as more moderate Sunnis, are still supporting the Alaouite Bashar’s administration. Giving the persecution of minorities all over the Middle East they fear an Islamic regime more than Bashar’s dictatorship (see – MEas”t Christians 2011 ).

 

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