For several years now in this column I have argued that the strategic aim of both Israel and the US in the Syria conflict has been to to actively prolong the war. If you believe their rhetoric about wanting to encourage “stability” in the region, this would seem unlikely. But scratch beneath the talk about human rights and democracy and it’s not hard to see the reality of imperial self-interest lying beneath.
Over the course of 2015, I have also used this column to show how a most unlikely alliance has played out in the south-western reaches of Syria: one between Israel and al-Qaeda’s officially-recognised franchise there – Jabhat al-Nusra.
Israel has been providing logistical support to al-Qaeda in Syria by treating their wounded fighters in its hospitals and sending them back to fight against the Syrian regime. UN reports have suggested that it may also be arming them.
It is well known that the US has been training and arming rebel groups in Syria. Although the US media routinely claims these are “moderate” rebels (in contrast with the extremists of the so-called Islamic State) the reality is that the US and its allies in the Gulf dictatorships have been giving arms and training to rebels who either “defect” to al-Qaeda soon after being trained or, under the rubric of the “Free Syrian Army” openly fight in alliance with al-Qaeda.
The terrorist bogeyman de jour is nowadays of course the so-called “Islamic State”. Do you remember back in the decade or so following the 9/11 attacks on the US? Back then it was all al-Qaeda, all the time. We were all meant to fear and quake in our boots over them. Ironically, the group is probably more of a threat now than they were then, and the actions taken by western governments back then helped to birth the creation of something of the ven more horrific “Islamic State.”
Al-Qaeda were a conveniently ghoulish enemy which tabloid newspapers could use to whip up fear and loathing and which western governments used to build public support for ever-increasing powers for their various domestic spy agencies.
Even though the British media and government constantly obsessed about al-Qaeda and the threat it posed, it was greatly exaggerated. This was especially the case in the aftermath to 9/11 and the build-up to the invasion of Iraq. The so-called War on Terrorism was envisaged as a sort of endless war, in large part for the benefits of western capital, especially the arms firms, and for control of Middle Eastern oil.
At the risk of becoming a broken record, here is another article I wrote on the Israeli-al-Qaeda alliance in Syria:
Why are they doing this? Has Israeli suddenly converted to Wahhabism? Have they suddenly developed an affinity for the theories of al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri? Do they seriously consider credible the promises last week from Nusra Front leader Abu Muhammad al-Jolani not to use Syria as a base from which to attack the West?
Of course not. Indeed, it is precisely in Israel’s self-interest for civil war in Syria to continue for as long as possible.
Divide and rule is the classic imperial strategy, one that the British and French empires ruthlessly pursued in the region for decades, and America has continued as the current imperial hegemon (particularly during its direct occupation of Iraq). And despite occasional important differences with the United States, Israel is, in many respects, the spear tip of imperial interests in the region.
Summarizing all we have learned so far about Israel’s alliance with al-Qaida in Syria, along with the latest revelations:
In the video, Lieutenant Colonel Dr. Itzik Malka claims of the 1,600 wounded he said have arrived in Israel from Syria, “the majority are women, children and elderly people” (my emphasis). That’s another implicit acknowledgement that Israel is treating wounded militants from Syria (the majority of whom in that area are al-Qaeda). And Ben Yishai himself in the article accompanying the footage states that “wounded Syrians have been arriving almost daily to the security fence, seeking medical help. It is likely that most if not all of these nationals are rebels from the rival jihadist Islamic State and al-Nusra Front groups”.
On the lie of Israeli “Hamas = ISIS = al-Qaida” propaganda:
ISIS (which began as a branch of al-Qaeda before going off on its own tangent) by way of contrast envisions an “Islamic” supra-state which would stretch over the whole Levant, or Greater Syria region, as well as Iraq.
Al-Qaeda, despite the historic rhetoric from Osama bin Laden about the plight of the Palestinians, has long condemned Hamas as apostate movement for its nationalism, and for participation in democratic elections. ISIS seems to be following along the same path, and is now stretching these rhetorical attacks into armed attacks,
Since 2007, Hamas, elected to power in 2006, has had a firm grip on the coastal strip in terms of security. It has met and bested several security challenges over the years from different sources.
As totally sceptical as I am about the propaganda system that is the mainstream media, it still surprises me that this story is getting almost zero media attention. Israel has admitted being in active military alliance with a group considered one of the Western world’s greatest terrorist threats. And all purely to make sure Syria bleeds for as long as possible:
Al-Maqet was detained without access to a lawyer for ten days, and the military court eventually ruled that he must use a lawyer with a high-level security clearance (in other words he has to use a former Israeli military officer as a lawyer … as his defender in a military court).
The amount of trouble that Israel’s Deep State is going to in order to shut this man up is deeply emblematic of the state’s fundamentally anti-democractic nature. It also shows that, the more press coverage there is of Israel’s alliance with al-Qaeda in Syria (it has been pretty much ignored by mainstream media to date) the more Israel is sensitive to the facts being exposed.
After all, by aiding al-Qaeda in Syria, Israel is by providing material support to a group that it itself defines as a terrorist organization, as do the US and British governments.
“We don’t ask who they are, we don’t do any screening,” the unnamed Israeli military official told the paper of the hospital treatment of al-Qaeda fighters. “Once the treatment is done, we take them back to the border [sic – ceasefire line] and they go on their way [in Syria],” he said.
An unnamed military official also said there is an “understanding” between Israeli forces and al-Qaeda fighters there and that “there is a familiarity of the [al-Qaeda] forces on the ground”.
I wrote about my take on Abdel Bari Atwan’s latest book on al-Qaida and discuss some of its themes:
The horrific doctrine and practices of bin Laden and his followers ensures that the popular appeal of al-Qaeda in the Middle East is always going to be limited at best. Add to that the defeat that al-Qaeda “central” (bin Laden and his small group did not originally name themselves “al-Qaeda,” but soon adopted the western-invented moniker when it because a byword for fear after September 2001) suffered in 2001 when America and its military allies invaded and bombed Afghanistan, destroying its bases, toppling its Taliban allies and forcing its leadership to flee to Pakistan.