Still desperate to try to cobble together a credible group of “freedom fighters” out of the motley crew of foreign jihadists, heart-eaters, and military defectors, the British and French governments are pushing the UN to officially designate Jabhat al-Nusra, the leading Islamist rebel group, as part of al-Qaeda.
The designation seems a trivial matter, since Jabhat al-Nusra’s leadership openly endorses al-Qaeda and vice-versa. The label would mean existing sanctions would apply to al-Nusra as well, something officials say they hope would mean strengthening the various other rebel factions.
It’s a game Western nations have been playing at for months. Al-Nusra’s open affiliation with al-Qaeda is damaging to the momentum for imposing a regime change on Syria, and so the US and others have been trying to embolden the feckless secular factions with money, arms and training, hoping they would eventually marginalize al-Nusra.
It has not only been ineffective but counter-productive, as a secular offensive against the Syrian territory around the Jordan border almost immediately left that territory in al-Nusra’s hands, and even the moderate rebels constantly courting a Western imprimatur have conceded that they don’t think the war can be won without Nusra fighters doing much of the heavy lifting.
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