Islamic fighters from across the region are flocking to Syria to help fight against the regime of President Bashar al-Assad, emulating previous mujahedeen-type guerrilla wars like in Afghanisatn. And this time may have similar blowback potential.
The Sunni fighters flooding into Syria from Iraq, Jordan and elsewhere, are receiving funding from private organizations in Saudi Arabia, Iraq, and Kuwait and hooking up with rebel militias in Syria. Some groups are linked to al-Qaeda and have agenda’s that go beyond toppling Assad, including sectarian rivalries.
Several of the Gulf Arab states, notably Saudi Arabia and Qatar, are providing the these fighters and the rebels with aid and weapons with the help of coordination from the CIA.
A similar phenomenon took place in Soviet-occupied Afghanistan in the 1980s, in which many of the same countries – including the US – helped radicalize and militarize a generation of jihadis. Afghanistan then famously became an al-Qaeda hideout, as they planned the terrorist attacks of 9/11. That kind of blowback is liable to happen with Syria as well.