Predicting events in the Middle East is for the most part a fool’s game, but once in a while it’s easy. When the Syrian uprising against Bashar al-Assad began, I warned that it the country would likely become Al Qaeda’s next project if Assad wasn’t quickly deposed.
It has happened before. Afghanistan, Iraq, Chechnya, and Algeria have all been grotesquely disfigured by radical Islamists during protracted civil wars. Al Qaeda and like-minded extremists even volunteered to fight in Bosnia and Kosovo against Slobodan Milosevic and his Serbian nationalist paramilitaries. More than 1,000 so-called “Afghan Arab” veterans of Afghanistan’s war against the Soviet Union were initially welcomed in Bosnia since no one else offered to help, but the bin Ladenists were rebuffed in Kosovo when NATO stepped in instead.
It was also clear, in the Syrian case, that if the United States and Europe would not at least try to oust Assad indirectly through proxies, that the Saudis and other illiberal Gulf Arab states would back their own proxies. [...]
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