To undermine Iran, which is predominantly Shiite, the Bush Administration has decided, in effect, to reconfigure its priorities in the Middle East. In Lebanon, the Administration has coöperated with Saudi Arabia’s government, which is Sunni, in clandestine operations that are intended to weaken Hezbollah, the Shiite organization that is backed by Iran. The U.S. has also taken part in clandestine operations aimed at Iran and its ally Syria. A by-product of these activities has been the bolstering of Sunni extremist groups that espouse a militant vision of Islam and are hostile to America and sympathetic to Al Qaeda.
The best candidate for recognition is the little-known Syrian Interim Government, or S.I.G. Unlike many other opposition groups, which are based in Turkey, the S.I.G. is based inside Syria, with offices in Idlib and scattered throughout opposition-held territory.
A U.S. drone strike in Syria killed a senior Al-Qaeda leader who once had ties to Osama bin Laden, the Pentagon said on November 2.
The October 17 strike near Idlib killed Haydar Kirkan, who “was intent on plotting and carrying out attacks against the West,” Pentagon spokesman Captain Jeff Davis said.
Syria’s militant Jabhat Fateh al Sham, formerly the Nusra Front, said on Monday that Egyptian cleric Abu al Faraj al Masri, a prominent member of the militant group, had been killed in a strike by the U.S.-led coalition.
After a two-year siege, al Qaeda’s affiliate in Syria and other insurgents on Wednesday captured the one remaining Syrian army air base in Idlib, a development that activists said effectively expelled the last of President Bashar al-Assad’s military from the northwestern province.
This makes Idlib the second of Syria’s 14 provinces to slip completely from Syrian army control. Earlier this year, militant groups captured the provincial capital, also called Idlib, as well as other towns and villages.
The province of Raqqa fell to Islamic State extremists last year, after IS militants captured its provincial capital, also called Raqqa, in January 2014. Islamic State group has since declared the city as the seat of its caliphate, which spans a third of both Syria and Iraq.
|Image: Syria already has a capital. It’s called Damascus and Al Qaeda does not dominate there.|