“David Cameron was derided for claiming that there are “about 70,000 Syrian opposition fighters …who do not belong to extremist groups” and who might be potential allies of the coalition against IS. The Kurds are not included in that count………… In fact, most experts agree with the prime minister’s intelligence-derived assessment. Charles Lister of Brookings Doha Centre reckons that there are over 100 armed factions with a total of 75,000 fighters, many of whom operate under the Free Syrian Army umbrella, who could be considered “moderate” by Syrian standards. Even more problematic from a Western point of view is the idea of partnering with either Ahrar al-Sham or Jaish al-Islam, two big Salafist groups that have connections with Jabhat al-Nusra (JAN), al-Qaeda’s increasingly powerful Syrian affiliate………..”
Interesting but predictable. The Economist agrees with David Cameron about the 75 thousand “moderate” fighters in Syria, something I doubt very much. It quotes the Brookings Doha Center (in Qatar, hardly a neutral party) as confirmation. Then it notes that more than 30, 000 of these are Al Qaeda affiliates (probably some 50 thousand in this case). So again they tag Al Nusra and Ahrar Al Sham cutthroats as “moderates”.
Remember when the Al Qaeda, the creator of Al Nusra and later ISIS, were considered the worst of the worst? Not anymore.
I wrote a couple of years ago that Al Qaeda may be invited to “come in from the cold“. I repeated last spring when the Nusra seemed the last great hope of the Arab oil potentates in Syria. Now it is being invited in from the cold. Not only in Syria: in devastated Yemen, the Saudi and allied mercenary bombings have allowed Al Qaeda to take over more towns in the south.
Will ISIS be too far behind? Perhaps with a little push from the moderate Wahhabi “allies”?
Mohammed Haider Ghuloum