Iraq warns of al-Qaeda influx to Syria

A destroyed Syrian forces tank remains in a damaged street in Atareb in northern Aleppo province (AFP Photo / LO)
Iraq's Foreign Minister is claiming al-Qaeda is behind the uprising against Syria's president. He stated that there is “solid information and intelligence” that militants from the terror network have been flowing into Syria.

Baghdad had for years urged Damascus to clamp down on al-Qaeda militants coming from Syria to aid the Iraqi insurgency, Hoshyar Zebari said. "Now their direction is the other way around."

The al-Nusra Front, an al-Qaeda-linked group, has claimed responsibility for dozens of attacks across Syria. UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon also said he believes militants were responsible for two suicide car bombs in Damascus in May.

The Free Syrian Army and opposition activists, however, always denied any links to terrorist groups and regularly accuse the Syrian government of staging the attacks.

But these revelations should not come as a surprise for anyone who has been paying attention to the situation in Syria, Gerald Horne, a political commentator and historian, told RT.

RT: Looks as though the Syrian government may have been right all along, pointing the finger at al-Qaeda and other militants, regardless of what the West continues to say about the regime. Will these revelations by the Iraqi Foreign Minister change anything?

Gerald Horne: Certainly what the Iraqi foreign minister said should not come as a surprise to anybody who was paying attention. Even William Hague, the British foreign secretary, announced a few weeks ago that al-Qaeda was involved in Syria. We all know that during the 1980s, when the United States was involved in trying to disrupt Afghanistan, that the United State collaborated with al-Qaeda and Bin Laden himself.

The Iraqis have very bitter experience with al-Qaeda. We know that before the US invasion about 10 years ago, there were about two million Christians in Iraq. Since that invasion, and because of the car bombings and other kinds of depredations committed by al-Qaeda, we now have a few hundred thousand Christians in Iraq. Many of those refugees have moved to Syria, where they are now experiencing the same thing they experienced in Iraq.

RT: Russia and China are protecting Syria from sanctions, insisting on a political solution – but how long can they continue to do that for the country's government?

GH: Let’s face it; this ragtag bunch that is called the Free Syrian Army is not going to be able to dislodge one of the most powerful militaries in the region. The Turkish planes that interfered in Syrian airspace just a few days ago came to realize that the Syrian military is nothing to play with. So I think that diplomacy is the only way out, and the sooner that lesson is learned in the North Atlantic, the better.