♠ Posted by Emmanuel in Middle East at 9/01/2014 01:30:00 AMarticle over at the WSJ on how "the enemy of my enemy is my friend" is turning up odd de facto if not de jure partnerships in the Middle East as the so-called Islamic State in Iraq and Syria makes inroads and holds territory there. Just because you don't admit working together doesn't mean you wouldn't welcome mutually desirable outcomes. The United States and Iran having a shared interest in propping up the Shia-dominated Iraqi government to prevent further incursions is novel enough. but try al-Qaeda and the United States fighting ISIS:
Islamic State even has had a falling out with al Qaeda, the group that spawned it. Al Qaeda's official Syrian branch, known as the Nusra Front, is outflanked and mocked by Islamic State. So Nusra has joined the fight against Islamic State, clashing violently on the battlefields of Syria. These countries and movements may be at odds over nearly everything else, but nothing focuses the mind like a mortal threat, say some analysts and former top security officials. Given not only Islamic State's savagery but its potential to overthrow regimes and spill over borders, they all seem to agree on only one thing: It needs to be stopped.Cue America and al-Qaeda working towards similar ends in stopping ISIS:
"I can tell you who are not bedfellows: Iran and the Assad regime," says Ryan Crocker, former U.S. ambassador to both Iraq and Syria. Mr. Crocker, however, suggests an even more provocative possibility: a de facto alliance with the Nusra Front—the al Qaeda offshoot in Syria (and U.S.-designated terrorist outfit) that is one of the few groups directly battling Islamic State. Nusra already works openly with U.S.-backed rebel groups in Syria, and it maintains communication with U.S.-ally Qatar, which this week helped engineer the release of an American journalist being held by Nusra. Many took this as a signal that Nusra wants to work through the Qataris to be seen as player in any anti-Islamic State configuration.Things would come to a head if the US decides to bomb Syrian territory where ISIS fighters are. Should it avoid hitting Nusra forces?
Nusra already works openly with U.S.-backed rebel groups in Syria, and it maintains communication with U.S.-ally Qatar, which this week helped engineer the release of an American journalist being held by Nusra. Many took this as a signal that Nusra wants to work through the Qataris to be seen as player in any anti-Islamic State configuration. If the U.S. chooses to launch airstrikes Mr. Obama is considering against Islamic State inside Syria, and Nusra fighters then make inroads battling them, the U.S. would confront "a very interesting decision" on whether to openly include Nusra as part of a larger group willing to help take on Islamic State, Mr. Crocker says.Strange times, no? When al-Qaeda disowns ISIS for being too bloodthirsty, something really is going on. Some extremists are, er, more extreme than others.