Since 2010, when the upheaval in the Mideast dubbed the Arab Spring began, the United States has been the friend of rebels seeking regime change in countries throughout the region. In some cases, that meant providing weapons to rebels as well as reportedly conducting clandestine U.S. military operations.
In recent months, evidence emerged that al-Qaida has taken advantage of the U.S.-backed chaos in the Mideast and North Africa to gain allegiance in the aftermath of regime changes. When the Arab Spring initially began, al-Qaida was believed to be strongest in Pakistan. But policy analysts point to the rash of violent protests at U.S. embassies in Cairo and in Yemen and the attack that took the life of U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens in Benghazi, Libya, as evidence of a proliferation of al-Qaida-initiated terror.
Last week, Secretary of State John Kerry announced that the United States was prepared to provide $60 million in aid to opposition groups working to oust Syrian President Bashar Assad. That money will be in addition to $50 million already provided to the rebels to help them organize, as well as $385 million distributed to Syria and neighboring countries for humanitarian relief.
U.S. officials are reluctant to arm Syria’s rebels; the influx of monetary aid comes at a time when the United States and other outside nations have lost leverage over the Syrian opposition forces and radical Islamist groups like al-Qaida are gaining support among the rebel fighters. There is concern from some that the aid money could be making its way into the hands of terror groups.
A NATO researcher explained last week why the growing al-Qaida presence is cause for concern, saying Syria’s uncertain future could make it a top al-Qaida stronghold.
“It’s now clear that Syria is not undergoing a violent transition from one regime to another,” noted NATO researcher Jean-Loup Samaan. “In fact, the country is enduring a process of disintegration of its state structures. Planners for a post-Assad Syria are no longer eyeing the potential successors of Assad but [are looking] at the bewildering landscape of non-state actors that fight each other over the conquest of what will be eventually left of the Syrian state.”
Iranian Revolutionary Guard commander Massoud Jazayeri urged U.S. officials to rethink support of Syrian opposition forces earlier this month, warning that terror groups have gained heavy control of opposition forces. He warned that the al-Qaida mission, such as it is, will lead to the armed rebels continuing their terrorist activities in the other countries, including the West, in the near future.
“The al-Qaida groups and those services which conduct their operations in line with the U.S. interests will soon change track of their operations to other places and they will cause new troubles for the U.S. and Europe henceforth,” Jazayeri said.
Questions continue to swirl surrounding the Sept. 11 attack in Benghazi, Libya, that left four Americans dead. Among the most confounding factors were inaccurate comments made by U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice in the wake of the assault. The embattled administration official appeared last night on Jon Stewart’s “The Daily Show” to discuss the government’s handling of the crisis.
During the exchange, the host challenged Rice on some of the confusing and contradictory information that emerged in the wake of the terror attack. The ambassador also issued some tough words for those who still believe the Obama administration is hiding key information.
Stewart wasted no time launching into his questioning. Almost as soon as Rice sat down, he asked the ambassador why she was selected to speak out on Sunday morning shows and pondered why someone else more appropriate (i.e. Hillary Clinton or another official) wasn’t chosen. The ambassador gave this long-winded answer:
“I’ve spent many-a-Sunday doing the Sunday shows. In this case, Secretary Clinton, who had been asked originally to do it, felt that she didn’t want to, couldn’t do it that week, having been through quite an intense week with the loss of our colleagues in Benghazi, the violence against our embassies all over the Arab and Muslim world and then — also that Friday having to join President Obama in greeting the families of our fallen colleagues and bringing their bodies back.”
11 February 2013 Last updated at 10:14 ET
Syrian rebels are reported to have seized control of the country’s largest hydro-electric dam, in what would be a strategic loss to the government.
Activists and opposition groups said fighters had taken over entrances and exits of the dam in the northern province of Raqa.
Reports said the dam on the Euphrates River was still operational.
Meanwhile an explosion in a car on the Syria-Turkey border has killed at least seven people, officials say.
It is thought that the explosion happened in the area of the Cilvegozu customs post on the Turkish side of the border, in the southern province of Hatay.
Dozens of people were wounded in the blast, the cause of which was not immediately clear.
Published December 01, 2012
Dec. 1, 2012: Supporters of Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi rally in front of Cairo University, Cairo, Egypt. (AP)
CAIRO – Egypt’s President Mohammed Morsi called Saturday for a referendum in two weeks on a contentious draft constitution, setting a date for another milestone in the country’s transition to democracy. Widespread disputes over the charter and Morsi’s recent seizure of near absolute power have marred the process and thrown the country into turmoil.
As has been the case in nearly two years since Hosni Mubarak was ousted, what should have been a cause for national celebration turned into dueling protest between opponents and supporters of how the transition has been managed– largely divided along Islamist and secular lines.
More than 100,000 Morsi supporters organized by the Muslim Brotherhood and ultraconservative Salafi groups took to the streets of Cairo and other cities a day after a massive opposition demonstration against his recent decrees giving him immunity from judicial oversight and the charter that was rushed through an assembly packed with allies.
The presidency has been locked in a tug of war with the powerful judiciary and secular and Christian activists since Morsi granted himself far-reaching powers on Nov. 22 in a bid to pre-empt an expected decision by the Supreme Constitutional Court on Sunday to dissolve the constitutional panel, as it had done the Islamist-led parliament earlier this year.
‘If Jews do not leave, there will be no other way but to bury all of its inhabitants’
by Reza Kahlili Email
Posted: September 17, 2012
Reza Kahlili served in CIA Directorate of Operations, as a spy in the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, counterterrorism expert; currently serves on the Task Force on National and Homeland Security, an advisory board authorized by Congress. He is the author of the award winning book “A Time to Betray”
and regularly appears in national and international media as an expert on Iran and counterterrorism in the Middle East.More ↓
Iranian analyst Alireza Forghani boasted today that Jerusalem, which he claims was invaded over 50 years ago by the “pig-faced” Jews, will soon become a mass “graveyard” for the Israeli people.
Forghani, a strategy specialist in the camp of Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, boasted that every city in Israel will turn into a killing ground and the longsuffering of Muslims worldwide “will be justified by the mighty Islamic Iran.” No one then will listen to the cries of the women and children of Israel, the author warned, when Jerusalem becomes “the biggest graveyard in the world.”
Forghani has also previously penned articles that laid out the legal and religious justification for the destruction of Israel and the slaughter of its people, as well as the right of Islamic Iran to obtain the nuclear bomb.