“Torn between two lovers, feeling like a fool
Loving both of you is breaking all the rules
Torn between two lovers, feeling like a fool
Loving you both is breaking all the rules…….” Mary MacGregor
“Radical Islamist groups are evolving in Syria. An audio recording has been released by Saudi Majed al-Majed, emir of al-Qaeda’s Abdullah Azzam Brigades, who left Ain al-Helweh Palestinian refugee camp in Lebanon over a month ago. The latest statement from the Abdullah Azzam Brigades, which was released as an audio recording, does not resemble the organization’s other statements in terms of tone, form, or content. The introductory section declared allegiance to Saudi Majed Muhammad al-Majed (b. 1973) as the emir of the organization in the Levant. Al-Majed, who is one of the most wanted men in Lebanon, left Ain el-Helweh refugee camp last month, heading for the battlefields of Syria. Declaring a Saudi from the Arabian Peninsula as the emir of the Levant is an unusual move for al-Qaeda, which is known to pick leaders according to their respective nationalities………..”
Syria has had its share of “foreign” masters since the Romans left involuntarily about fourteen centuries ago. The final chapter was supposed to have been written after World War I when the British appointed Faisal Ibn Al Hussein of Hijaz as King of Syria, after they had “liberated” the Levant form Turkish occupation. He was the second Hijazi to start a new dynasty in Syria. Fourteen centuries before him the Hijazi Mu’awiya Ibn Abu Sufyan (an opportunistic Umayyad and most of his life a tough pagan enemy of Islam) declared himself Caliph after the death of Imam Ali, the fourth rightful Caliph in Kufa (Iraq). His power base and capital was Damascus and his dynasty lasted a little more than one century.
Faisal did not last long in Syria: France invaded and kicked him out (the British gave him Iraq as a consolation prize). There was no Saudi Arabia at the time: the al-Saud were cornered in their own homeland of Nejd in those days, having barely defeated Ibn Rasheed (al-Rasheed). Still this new al-Majed clown of al-Qaeda comes from the Arabian Peninsula, like the earlier ones, and he is Saudi.
Does this mean that when and if the al-Assad regime is finished the Saudis will control Syria?
If and when the Baathists fall I suspect there will be competition between the al-Saud, the Qatari al-Thani, and the Turks over running Syria. The first two have a lot of money to spend in Syria (actually only the al-Thani Qataris can afford that, the Saudis have so many princes who grab the money that they can’t afford to spend so much). The Turks have the advantage of proximity and the muscle and, more important, a seeming workable political and economic system. But this Arab competition we are talking about here will be through the Muslim Brothers and the more pro-Saudi Salafis rather than al-Qaeda as we know it. The Saudis probably now think they will be happy just to see the Iranian influence in Syria ended (as do all Western powers), but they will then face an even more powerful Turkey which used to rule Syria (as well as parts of what is now Saudi Arabia). Turkey will provide an even more compelling example of a democratic (sort of) Islamic state than either theocratic Iran or Kleptocratic Saudi Arabia and Qatar.
Of course the Wahhabi jihadists like al-Qaeda are getting stronger in Syria, being fed Arab volunteers and money and arms. They are very likely to hang around there for a long time, just as they are in Iraq.