Assad is using al Qaeda to conduct bombings, says former Syrian ambassador

Nawaf Fares, the former Syrian ambassador to Iraq, gave an interview with The Sunday Telegraph: Mr Fares’s most damaging allegation is that the Syrian government itself has a hand in the nationwide wave of suicide bombings on government buildings, which have killed hundreds of people and maimed thousands more. By way of example, he cited the twin blasts outside a military intelligence building in the al-Qazzaz suburb of Damascus in May, which killed 55 people and injured another 370.

“I know for certain that not a single serving intelligence official was harmed during that explosion, as the whole office had been evacuated 15 minutes beforehand,” he said. “All the victims were passers by instead. All these major explosions have been have been perpetrated by al-Qaeda through cooperation with the security forces.”

Such allegations have been aired in general terms by the Syrian opposition before, and Mr Fares would not be drawn on what exact proof he had. He is, however, better placed than many to make such claims. One of the reasons for his rise in President Assad’s regime was that he is a senior member of the Oqaydat tribe, a highly powerful clan whose population straddles the Syrian-Iraq border. Following the fall of Saddam Hussein in 2003, their territory became part of the conduit used by Syria to smuggle jihadi volunteers into Iraq, with Mr Fares playing an important role.

“After the invasion of Iraq in 2003, the regime in Syria began to feel danger, and began planning to disrupt the US forces inside Iraq, so it formed an alliance with al-Qaeda,” he said. “All Arabs and other foreigners were encouraged to go to Iraq via Syria, and their movements were facilitated by the Syrian government. As a governor at the time, I was given verbal commandments that any civil servant that wanted to go would have his trip facilitated, and that his absence would not be noted. I believe the Syrian regime has blood on its hands, it should bare responsibility for many of the deaths in Iraq.”

He himself, he added, knew personally of several Syrian government “liaison officers” who still dealt with al-Qaeda. “Al-Qaeda would not carry out activities without knowledge of the regime,” he said. “The Syrian government would like to use al-Qaeda as a bargaining chip with the West – to say: ‘it is either them or us’.” [Continue reading…]

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3 thoughts on “Assad is using al Qaeda to conduct bombings, says former Syrian ambassador

  1. Tom Hall

    Denunciations by high-ranking defectors of the regimes they served throughout long careers have a certain flavor and a certain trajectory. Such converts have a well-honed sense of what’s required of them as they begin their new lives among former enemies. But if, as Fares plausibly alleges, the Assad regime allowed Islamist forces to transit Syrian territory in order to destabilize the US occupation of Iraq, the regime is now receiving a measure of retribution- ie “blowback”- as the same or similar cadres carry out attacks in Damascus.
    But it makes no sense to claim that atrocities of this kind are cannily sponsored by Assad’s own security forces. The last thing the regime needs in this crisis is Jihadist terrorism in the heart of the capital. Such events only serve to undermine the state’s reputation for maintaining public order under the gaze of a wavering populace. The impression left by these acts is that Assad and his cabal are rapidly losing control of the situation at a time when they desperately need to establish order and at least their own despotic version of security.
    The terrorist bombings are real. They are exactly what they appear to be, and not a stunt by Assad. The war is real, if asymmetric, and some of its participants are conducting anti-regime violence along the lines described. The regime can be relied on to carry out its own atrocities in a reasonably legible manner. Nobody’s playing games.

  2. Paul Woodward

    “The terrorist bombings are real. They are exactly what they appear to be, and not a stunt by Assad.”

    You know that for a fact?

    Those of us who do not claim to have an incontrovertible grasp on the truth see a certain degree of doubt in this matter.

    When the state’s reputation for being able to maintain public order has already been thoroughly hammered and it can no longer comfort people with the idea that they are being kept safe, then the fall back position becomes, “the situation is bad now but it will be sheer hell if we lose power.” Boom! “There’s a taste of the future.”

    Do I know whether Fares’ claim that Assad has co-opted al Qaeda is true? No. Is it credible? Sure.

  3. scottindallas

    The FSA has claimed many of these Al Queda style attacks. You might should read Moon of Alabama.

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