President Bashir al Assad made perhaps the most ironic statement of the year when he attacked Turkey for supporting rebel and terrorists groups fighting in Syria. From Reuters:
In an interview with Turkey’s Halk TV due to be broadcast later on Friday, Assad called Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan “bigoted” and said Ankara was allowing terrorists to cross into Syria to attack the army and Syrian civilians.
“It is not possible to put terrorism in your pocket and use it as a card because it is like a scorpion which won’t hesitate to sting you at the first opportunity,” Assad said, according to a transcript from Halk TV, which is close to Turkey’s opposition.
“In the near future, these terrorists will have an impact on Turkey and Turkey will pay a heavy price for it.”
Assad is actually right: Countries that attempt to ride the tiger by backing al Qaeda and allied groups have ultimately paid a heavy price. Look no further than Pakistan, which has supported, and continues to support, the Taliban in Afghanistan and a host of local Pakistani jihadist outfits to fight the Indians in Kashmir. These groups have since turned around and bitten the hand that feeds them.
Assad has made the same mistakes. He allowed al Qaeda in Iraq and other Islamist insurgent groups to use Syria as a base to attack US and Iraqi forces from 2003 up until the Syrian insurgency began in 2011. The US grew so frustrated with Assad’s support that it took the unusual step of launching a cross-border raid to decapitate a dangerous facilitation network that operated in eastern Syria in October 2008.
Al Qaeda in Iraq has since morphed into the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (or Syria) and the Al Nusrah Front for the People of the Levant; both groups have become dangerous foes and are instrumental in radicalizing the Syrian insurgency. Assad probably never saw this one coming, but he should have.
Welcome to the party, Assad.
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