Iraq: Syrian Rebels Breathe New Life into Iraqi Insurgency

Al-Qaeda in Iraq, Syrian Jihadists in Cozy Relationship

With Syrian rebels controlling more and more of the border with neighboring Iraq, the legitimate traffic flowing back and forth has ground to a halt, with Iraq’s government desperate to close border crossings as soon as the Assad government loses them.

The flow of fighters and arms back and forth is certainly not being stopped by these closures, however, and Iraqi officials warn that the Syrian Jihadists are breathing new left into Iraq’s own insurgency.

The two major players in all of this, the Syrian Jabhat al-Nusra and al-Qaeda in Iraq (AQI), enjoy a symbiotic relationship, and indeed have gotten so cozy that US officials say they are virtually indistinguishable from one another anymore.

The sectarian civil war in Syria added new urgency to the sectarian strife in Iraq, and the Western arms flowing into Syria, for rebel use, are leaving everyone with better weapons. AQI, on the other hand, has a solid decade of experience fighting the US occupation force, and can contribute experience as well as international legitimacy (at least in jihadist circles) to Nusra, which was originally supposed to be an Islamist media outlet and has ended up the backbone of Syria’s rebellion.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is Senior Editor for He has 20 years of experience in foreign policy research and his work has appeared in The American Conservative, Responsible Statecraft, Forbes, Toronto Star, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Providence Journal, Washington Times, and the Detroit Free Press.