The Syrian “Jihad”

This is the flag of the biggest and most effective jihad group in Syria, jabha al Nusrah. When I see this flag, I doubtless see the black flag of al-Qaeda.

I’ve been extra busy with work, school, setting up a house, etc., and I may not be blogging regularly but I’ve definitely stayed on top of it in terms of reading the news and staying updated. The Syrian War is going in a terrifyingly radical and unpredictable direction. What was a peaceful uprising has become militarized beyond recognition.  Look at this video brief. The Syrian War is now a full blown jihad like the one in Afghanistan in the 80s when Islamists from all corners of the Muslim world came to Afghanistan to fight the Soviets. Now a new generation is fighting in Syria against Assad’s criminal regime.

What happened in the 80s may have been several decades ago but it is still very instructive. In the 80s, a generation of Islamists were radicalized and fought and defeated the Soviets – the world’s second super power. They returned to their home countries battle-tested and battle-hardened with a triumphant zeal ready to replicate the Afghan success in their home countries. This along with local conditions is why the world witnessed an outbreak of violence in the 90s in places like Algeria and Egypt. Many of those militants that fought their respective states were veterans of the Afghan war, the so-called Arab Afghans.

Today a new generation of Islamists is being baptized in the so-called holy war. Some of them are themselves defeated veterans of the Iraq War who now seek to recover the loss of that war by waging a successful jihad in Syria. Alternatively, these same Iraq veterans could also be strategizing that a victory in Syria could help re-ignite a 2nd campaign in Iraq. Indeed, there is already a spill-over of the conflict into Syria.

Concurrently, some of the fighters in Syria are the victors of the recent Libya war. The commander who led the charge in taking Tripoli, AbdulHakim Belhadj, for instance, has been rumored to now be fighting in Syria. Although this is probably untrue, there are certainly veterans of the Libya War in Syria fighting today.

These veterans are training a new generation of militants, Syrian or otherwise, to wage the latest jihad against the Assad regime. The question everyone should be asking is what happens when the war ends? According to the video linked above, some would have it that the jihad continues until there is one Islamic state ruling over all of the Levant (Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, and Palestine/Israel). Others from further afar could return to their home countries to continue the jihad, as the Arab Afghans did in the 90s.

Whatever happens, a Jeffersonian democracy in a stable unified Syria seems the farthest possible outcome at this point.

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