The Council on Foreign Relations, a Washington DC think tank with large influence over U.S. foreign policy, is once again calling on the Obama administration to support Al Qaeda terrorists under the guise of defeating the Islamic State.
In an article entitled, Accepting Al Qaeda: The Enemy of the United States’ Enemy, Foreign Affairs writer Barak Mendelsohn argues that the United States must reconsider its current policy towards the terrorist organization and its leader Ayman al-Zawahiri.
“The instability in the Middle East following the Arab revolutions and the meteoric rise of the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) require that Washington rethink its policy toward al Qaeda, particularly its targeting of Zawahiri,” Mendelsohn writes. “Destabilizing al Qaeda at this time may in fact work against U.S. efforts to defeat ISIS.”
Mendelsohn claims that by targeting both the Islamic State and Al Qaeda for airstrikes in Syria, the United States “reinforced the jihadist narrative that Washington is hostile to Sunni Muslims and ready to bargain with the murderous Alawite regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.”
“In order for U.S. President Barack Obama to fulfill his promise to ‘degrade and ultimately destroy’ ISIS, he must weaken ISIS’ control of Mosul, Raqqa, and other large population centers, as well as stop its expansion,” writes Mendelsohn. “Inadvertently, the administration’s cautious approach to military intervention makes al Qaeda—which views ISIS as a renegade offshoot—an important player in curtailing ISIS’ growth.”
Mendelsohn’s logic falls down when one considers the fact that jihadist groups supported by the U.S. in the past have gone on to join ISIS anyway, such as those who the west helped topple Colonel Gaddafi in Libya. The leader of the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group, Abdelhakim Belhadj, who once met with Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham, recently became the leader of ISIS in Libya.
Numerous so-called “moderate” rebel factions in Syria have also gone on to join ISIS despite receiving U.S. support.