Brits, French Push for UN to Label Syria’s al-Nusra as al-Qaeda

Hope Designation Would 'Strengthen' Other Rebel Factions

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.

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.