Syrian Troops foil al-Qaeda riposte in Aleppo as France warns al-Qaeda could replace ISIL

By Juan Cole | (Informed Comment) | – –

Even as the Syrian army defeated a counter-offensive by al-Qaeda in Syria and its battlefield allies at Aleppo, French President Francois Hollande warned that al-Qaeda should not be allowed to replace the declining Daesh (ISIL, ISIS) in Syria.

On Saturday and Sunday, al-Qaeda (the Nusra Front) led the fundamentalist Faylaq al-Sham and other rebel groups in an attack on the Syrian troops who have closed the last road into East Aleppo. They apparently did not believe that the Syrian Arab Army had actually come to control Castellano Road into East Aleppo, and so tried to put a military convoy down it. Syrian artillery made mincemeat of the rebel vehicles and inflicted heavy casualties on the militiamen.

The rebels called their ill-fated attack “Operation breaking the Siege.” They were, however, repulsed and suffered nearly 30 casualties.

At the same time, President Hollande of France called on the US and Russia to do more to combat al-Qaeda in Syria or the Nusra Front. He said, “There is a retreat of Daesh, which is uncontestable.” But, he added, it was necessary “that we also forestall other groups from strengthening as Daesh weakens.”

Hollande fears that as Daesh is rolled up in al-Raqqa and Deir al-Zor, al-Qaeda will step in to take that territory. France has suffered several major acts of terrorism by radicals with links both to al-Qaeda and Daesh.

It should be clarified that Hollande directed his appeal primarily to the US, which is covertly supporting the de facto allies of al-Qaeda. This CIA policy, which apparently even the US Pentagon views as crazy, is at odds with French security needs, Hollande was saying.

In contrast, Russia has been singing Hollande’s tune since it intervened in Syria last fall. Its air strikes have far more often targeted al-Qaeda than Daesh in Syria. It is the Americans whom Hollande needs to convince. And, I think it is a very dark dystopian vision that Hollande is conveying, whereby the CIA is so eager to overthrow al-Assad that it inadvertently allows al-Qaeda to take over Syria.

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Related video added by Juan Cole:

Al-Masdar: “Syrian Army continues pushing inside Allayramoun district in Aleppo”

8 Responses

  1. It is interesting that the article mentions al-Raqqa because that is where the ultimate battle between the Caliphate and “Rome” (read the West) is supposed to happen according to the belief of the Caliph and his followers.
    Controlling al-Raqqa is fundamental for the Caliphate. If it is lost there can be no final battle there.
    It is not clear whether al-Qaeda has the same belief.

    • You’re confused. Dabiq is the town, which is referenced in several eschatological hadith, and where it is fortold the West will be defeated by the Mahdi.

  2. Elsewhere I mentioned Europe’s growing public disenchantment with US foreign policy. Once that gets a grip on European leaders there may start an irreversible drift away which a Clinton presidency would only exacerbate.

  3. “This CIA policy, which apparently even the US Pentagon views as crazy, is at odds with French security needs, Hollande was saying.”

    Well, if the Pentagon thinks this is loopy then, gosh, it has to be totally batshit off-the-wall coo-coo-crazy.

    Does the Director of the CIA answer directly to the POTUS?

    Which begs a question: why hasn’t Obama told Brennan that this batshit crazy nonsense has to stop, pronto?

    After all, there is oversight of the CIA, right?

  4. Well, we’ve seen this movie before. The CIA’s too-clever-by-half geopolitical cynicism brought you Al-Qaeda I.0 and now they’re at work on the sequel, apparently.

  5. Some change in opinion. In 2012 Hollande’s foreign minister Fabius said about Al Nusra “il font du bon boulot” – they do good work. Huh!

    • For the record, Laurent Fabius may not have meant what that phrase would suggest, but rather that he was referring to how third parties view Jabhat al-Nusra. See here for a discussion on the Talk page of the French-language Wikipedia article about the former FM.

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