maandag 5 maart 2018

Did Assad Deliberately Release Islamist Prisoners to Militarize and Radicalize the Syrian Uprising?

"Are we supporting al Qaeda in Syria?"

The idea that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad deliberately militarized the Syrian uprising and sought to support extremist rebel groups, including ISIS, has been repeated often in the Western press. As proof of such claims, critics of the Syrian government suggest that Assad deliberately released Islamists from Syrian jails; that the Syrian army has not fought ISIS, and that Assad sought to support ISIS by purchasing oil from the terror group. It is argued that Assad took these measures to sabotage the peaceful, democratic uprising he allegedly faced, and in order to convince the West that he was fighting terrorists rather than peaceful pro-democracy protesters. It is presumed that if Assad could be successful in this, the United States would have no choice but to embrace the Syrian government as a partner in the so-called War on Terror against ISIS and other extremist groups, considering Assad the lesser evil. Articles to this effect have appeared in Newsweek, The Daily Beast, Independent (UK), the Wall Street Journal, and Der Spiegel, among others.
In fact the Syrian army has fought ISIS throughout the conflict, as detailed by Syria analyst Aymenn al-Tamimi. The Syrian government has purchased oil from ISIS, but out of necessity, as have US-backed rebel groups and even Western-funded NGOs, as I have detailed here.