This Washington Post story is written as if world history began a year ago or less.
Syrian rebels battled al-Qaeda-affiliated fighters across northern Syria on Saturday in an attempt to stem the sudden rise in influence of the extremists who have been staging attacks and conquering territory from Baghdad to Beirut.
At the same time, Iraqi government forces fought to contain an expanding revolt in the western province of Anbar by Sunni tribes, some of which have linked up with al-Qaeda militants to score significant gains in recent days.
The battles on both sides of the border signaled a defining moment for the increasingly entwined conflicts in Iraq and Syria, which have enabled the al-Qaeda-linked Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) to emerge as one of the region’s most powerful players.
On Saturday, Iraqi government troops fired shells into the city of Fallujah, which was overrun by al-Qaeda fighters this past week. At least seven civilians were killed, according to residents, but the government made no apparent headway against the insurgents, who are fighting with tribesmen in a broad revolt against the Shiite-dominated government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.
In Washington, the State Department noted that some tribal leaders have turned against the al-Qaeda fighters, including in the provincial capital of Ramadi, where tribes have allied with police and succeeded in ejecting militants from parts of the city they had seized.
So now the State Department is back to claiming they want to support moderates, whereas, just a short time ago, they were saying the opposite. It seems as if we are waiting for the winner to emerge so we can support that side and then claim that we saved Syria. But why do we need the credit if we are just switching sides with every battle? Why not just allow the Muslim nations around Syria to deal with the problem?
How did Al Qaeda become embedded in Iraq? The answer is that we practiced “pre-emptive” justice and then attempted nation-building. In the chaos that ensued Sunni Muslim extremists gained a foothold. This isn’t that surprising since Iraq was and is a majority Shiite country. The Sunni’s might be supportive of local militia’s due to their perception that they were outnumbered.
But before we invaded Iraq, the evil dictator Saddam Hussein had enforced a secular regime that forced Sunni, Shiite, and even Christian to all be treated as equal participants in the culture and in the political process. The Christian population has now been devastated.
Of course, the Sunnis in Iraq and Syria have allies in other governments. Deep in the story we even see it mentioned in passing: “The rebels killed three top ISIS commanders, from Chechnya, Tunisia, and Saudi Arabia…”
The Saudis, the same region whose nationals made up the majority of the 9-11 terrorists, are also arming the Sunni extremists—and they are doing so while they get arms from us.
We need to be out of the region. Keep the money here. Making a bad situation worse is not a rational strategy.