Since its start in March, 2011, the Syrian uprising and ongoing conflict around has been occupying the news every day. Debates in the International arena about whether or not to interfere in the increasingly violent conflict have taken place over and over again. The failure of the United States to aid the rebel forces against the Assad regime has created a vacuum in these 2 years which is being filled by the Al-Qaeda.
Al-Qaeda has been increasing its influence in the rebel controlled north of Syria as well as northern Iraq. The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), a militant group backed by Al-Qaeda, has become the dominant military force in northern Syria during these times of unrest and chaos. The ISIS has increased its following amongst the opposition, with many other groups suffering from disorganization and waning resources. The discipline and the considerable economic power of the ISIS has allowed them to expand their control and influence during a power vacuum. The ISIS has also started to gain control of key entry points into the city of Aleppo, although the city itself is under the control of several different rebel groups. Speaking to CNN, Rami Abdul Rahman from the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said:
“ISIS is the strongest group in Northern Syria –100% — and anyone who tells you anything else is lying”
Al-Qaeda’s Growing Influence in Syria
The instability in Iraq and rising sectarian tensions have also created the platform for Al-Qaeda to expand its area of influence. Al-Qaeda militants have established themselves in Mosul creating powerful networks. With the aim of gradually taking over the city, they impose increased taxes on big companies as well as small shops, threatening anyone who falls behind on payments with death.
An Increasingly Unstable Iraq
During a meeting with US President Barack Obama, Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki requested help from the US to fight the increasing power and influence of the Al-Qaeda. October has been reported to be the “deadliest month” since 2008, where 1000 people were killed and over 1500 were wounded.
In Iraq and Syria, Al-Qaeda is getting stronger. Both these countries have become increasingly unstable in the past years, with war and death becoming part of everyday life. Without the ability of a stable government to control and decrease the influence of militant groups, Al-Qaeda has seized the opportunity to create its strongholds. It had been said the US military forces were preparing for an intervention in Syria. However, there has been no action. The security of the Syrian borders has been greatly compromised, people have been displaced as a result of on going fighting and many have been killed in the fighting. Yet, there has been no significant movement from the international community.
increasing Al-Qaeda influence has made it even harder for the US to actually aid the rebels in Syria.
Now, the increasing Al-Qaeda influence has made it even harder for the US to actually aid the rebels in Syria. The fear of weapons and supplies falling into Al-Qaeda hands is a great concern for the US. It has been conducting a war against Al-Qaeda for more than a decade now, with considerable success. The growing power of Al-Qaeda is a threat to the security of many countries around the world, not just in the Middle East. Although being fought by the US, Al-Qaeda have found two arenas where they have been able to flourish again. Because of their political instability, Syria and Iraq are both very volatile and it would be very difficult for the US to interfere in either without causing massive security problems. Political and financial stability are the only ways to decrease the influence and power of Al-Qaeda in these areas, since the chaos and violence in the region are the main factors in explaining increasing support for the militant group. What can the international community do now to continue the fight against Al-Qaeda without harming the people in the region?