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Assad and ISIS More ‘Intimately Interwound’ Than Ever

Administration officials consider getting into bed with the dictator even as former ambassador warns they don't understand the alliance.

by
Bridget Johnson

Bio

July 11, 2014 - 4:00 pm

As some at the White House have reportedly been mulling a marriage of convenience to Bashar al-Assad, chilling news out of Syria adds even more weight to deep suspicions that one relationship has already been going strong — between Assad and ISIS.

International attention has been focused on Iraq since the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL or ISIS) claimed a large swath of territory stretching from the Turkish border almost to Baghdad as their caliphate, the Islamic State.

Next door in Syria, where the successor to al-Qaeda in Iraq found safe haven and a chance to grow and lure foreign fighters, opposition officials and observers have pointed out that Assad and ISIS are quietly working together, with the Islamic militants functioning as “Assad’s proxy,” in the words of the Syrian Coalition.

Louay Safi, spokesman for the Syrian Coalition, said the connection between ISIS and Assad “has never been so intimately interwound as it is today” as regime forces close in on Aleppo and ISIS targets rebel forces trying to hold out in Deir Ezzor.

“These advancements have not been interrupted by a single clash between regime forces and ISIS, which proves the existence of full coordination between them,” Safi said, noting that opposition forces are struggling without the aid they need while Assad continues to be buoyed by his Russian and Iranian benefactors.

Jalaluddin Khandji, representative of the local councils in the Syrian Coalition, called on the “democratic countries and international organizations to stand with the Syrians who have been left alone in their battle against the terrorism of Assad and ISIS, who threaten not only Syria and the region but the whole world.”

In fact, in the regime’s drive to retake Aleppo, Assad’s air forces are raining brutal barrel bombs on the populace while ISIS forces have been pushing toward the beleaguered Free Syrian Army on the ground.

PJ Media reported in September on the signs of the alliance between Assad and al-Qaeda forces, including convenient assassinations of key Assad opponents, coordinating attacks, not targeting each other’s positions and helping push a War on Terror narrative to keep Assad in power.

ISIS forces are also selling oil to the regime from fields under its control, proving to be business partners as well as fighters against a common enemy.

And now, ISIS enjoys a safe haven while Assad has been pulled back from the precipice and his reign looks fairly secure again. Assad is in an even better position now that officials in the West feel they must choose between Assad and ISIS, rather than considering the two joined at the hip.

“The irony is ISIS is on the side of Assad. It is serving Assad’s +Iran’s agendas,” tweeted London-based Middle Eastern affairs expert Nehad Ismail. “ISIS is Assad’s best ally and best friend.”

The Daily Beast reported last week that administration officials have been debating whether to keep calling for the ouster of Assad or accept that the dictator should stay.

“Anyone calling for regime change in Syria is frankly blind to the past decade; and the collapse of eastern Syria, and growth of Jihadistan, leading to 30 to 50 suicide attacks a month in Iraq,” one senior Obama administration official who works on Iraq policy told The Daily Beast.

Former U.S. Ambassador to Syria Robert Ford, though, told The Daily Beast that “the people who think Bashar al Assad’s regime is the answer to containing and eventually eliminating the Islamic-based threat do not understand the historic relationship between the regime and ISIS.”

“[They] don’t understand the current relationship between Assad and ISIS and how they are working on the ground together directly and indirectly inside Syria,” Ford said. “The people who think Assad’s regime survival is essential have not explained how his survival would solve the problem of extremism in Syria.”

“Sickening. Some in Obama Admn want to work w/#Assad, against ISIS #Iraq, forgetting Assad helped #ISIS become monstrous,” Al-Arabiya Washington bureau chief Hisham Melhem tweeted this week.

Emile Hokayem, senior fellow for Middle East security at the International Institute for International Studies, noted that “the pressure on Damascus is at its lowest in two years.”

“And the debate in the west over what to do about ISIS is a source of delight for a number of Assad associates,” Hokayem added.

Frederic C. Hof at the Atlantic Council argued in a Thursday piece that if the Obama administration had a sense of urgency about confronting the problem, resupplying nationalist opposition forces could be too little, too late.

“As the administration struggles in Iraq with the chicken-and-egg dilemma of hitting ISIS first or waiting for an inclusive Government of Iraq to emerge, it might consider hammering ISIS unmercifully in Syria,” Hof wrote. “Yes, the Assad regime, Iran, and Russia all need ISIS alive and well in Syria to help crush Assad’s opposition. Yes, they would all be quietly appalled by such a step. Yet how could they possibly object publicly or even privately to the United States obliterating key pieces of the terrorist entity they all publicly decry?”

Bridget Johnson is a veteran journalist whose news articles and opinion columns have run in dozens of news outlets across the globe. Bridget first came to Washington to be online editor at The Hill, where she wrote The World from The Hill column on foreign policy. Previously she was an opinion writer and editorial board member at the Rocky Mountain News and nation/world news columnist at the Los Angeles Daily News. She is an NPR contributor and has contributed to USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, National Review Online, Politico and more, and has myriad television and radio credits as a commentator. Bridget is Washington Editor for PJ Media.

Comments are closed.

Top Rated Comments   
Yes, they would be the opposition. But each side thinks they will be in a better position. So they are cooperating while sharpening their knives to kill each other.

So why would Washingotn get involved?

Oh yeah, a bucket of shite was put in front of them,
29 weeks ago
29 weeks ago Link To Comment
We are so screwed...
29 weeks ago
29 weeks ago Link To Comment
"Assad and ISIS More ‘Intimately Interwound’ Than Ever"

Not nearly as much as Obama/McCain and ISIS are ‘Intimately Interwound’. Obama sends them arms and McCain has his picture taken with them, his friends.
29 weeks ago
29 weeks ago Link To Comment
All Comments   (24)
All Comments   (24)
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Any port for a floundering ship. This admin may even end up as the Flying Dutchman.
29 weeks ago
29 weeks ago Link To Comment
This is an extension of Michael Ledeen's somewhat questionable theory that all mischief in the region and the world is masterminded by Iran. Michael has claimed that Iran ran the al Qaeda in Iraq operation featuring the Jordanian Jihadi (whose name I forget) that was killed several years ago. According to Ledeen, Iran is running ISIS operations as well, and pitting Sunni against Shiite in Iraq so it can come in and pick up the pieces. Of course there is logic to the theory. I always wonder where the proof is. Ledeen and others have suggested that Iran sheltered bin Laden's sons (apparently so), and therefore it was involved in planning 911. There has never been any proof of this. At the same time, nobody has ever really explained how the Naudet brothers and their friend James Hanlon happened to be in the right place at the right time for the terrible 911 crash video. They knew each other for years previously, since Hanlon, an actor-director-firefighter, produced the Naudet's prizewinning video about an amateur boxer several years earlier. It's certainly a strange, dark world we live in.

I don't doubt that Assad and Iran would use ISIS for their purposes, but where is the evidence that Iran seeks the destruction of the Shiite power base in Iraq. That's what would happen if ISIS wins, with its Saddam-era military officers help. Are we to believe that Iran and Syria do not understand that such a defeat would impact both Hizbollah and the Syrian regime itself?
29 weeks ago
29 weeks ago Link To Comment
Some of those quotes show the ignorance America's have of the middle east. Assad is at once dependent on its ally Shia Iran but then working with ISIS which is the enemy of Shia Iraqis. That's a pretty diabolical plan alright. How is supporting ISIS, which would kill every Shia Iraqi if it could, helping Iran's "agenda?

More likely a core of former Iraqi officers once hiding in Syria have come home at the head of a ragtag army and defeated a superior Iraqi force of Shia which lacks officer experience because Hussein didn't allow a Shia officer core. In the middle east, leadership is the dealbreaker, because we're not talking about a culture of individual eccentrics encouraged to think on their own.
29 weeks ago
29 weeks ago Link To Comment
"...in the words of the Syrian Coalition."

Okay.
What flavor-of-the-month kind of primitive internecine tribal warfare Arab-Islamic insanity is THIS bunch pushing, and just why the hell should I believe anything THEYhave to say?
29 weeks ago
29 weeks ago Link To Comment
Yes, the Assad regime, Iran, and Russia all need ISIS alive and well in Syria to help crush Assad’s opposition.

Wouldn't ISIS then become the opposition?
29 weeks ago
29 weeks ago Link To Comment
Yes, they would be the opposition. But each side thinks they will be in a better position. So they are cooperating while sharpening their knives to kill each other.

So why would Washingotn get involved?

Oh yeah, a bucket of shite was put in front of them,
29 weeks ago
29 weeks ago Link To Comment
We are so screwed...
29 weeks ago
29 weeks ago Link To Comment
Let 'em work it out. Whoever wins will bring calm. Interfere and you'll protract this whole mess indefinitely. Plus they aren't in America.
29 weeks ago
29 weeks ago Link To Comment
I'd like to believe that, but just wait till Obama and the Gang start beating their chests and wailing about all those poor Syrian and Iraqi women and children...

You didn't get the memo? We are now the official Free Clinic and orphanage to the World.
29 weeks ago
29 weeks ago Link To Comment
When you interfere, you have to prop up the side that is losing only just enough to maintain the status quo.

That operation itself will lead to calls for impeachment. What do we do about fellow Americans who are indignant?
29 weeks ago
29 weeks ago Link To Comment
"Plus they aren't in America."

Not now.

Not yet.
29 weeks ago
29 weeks ago Link To Comment
Yes they are. They can multi-task. If the Chinese, MS13, and children are here, ISIS or other terrorists are here and

Obama, the Democrats and the Chamber of Commerce do not care!
29 weeks ago
29 weeks ago Link To Comment
Check Charlotte Co. Virginia. I won't say more.
29 weeks ago
29 weeks ago Link To Comment
Check our southern border!
29 weeks ago
29 weeks ago Link To Comment
ISIS is in VA and Mexico. Check.
29 weeks ago
29 weeks ago Link To Comment
Greetings:

So, how come the media keep leaving the "w" out of the Syrian President's last name ???
29 weeks ago
29 weeks ago Link To Comment
Say what?
29 weeks ago
29 weeks ago Link To Comment
This regime knows exactly what they're doing by cozying up to Assad (and ISIS)....it is no mistake at all. Dear Leader would love nothing more than another media cover story that the regime is either incompetent or naive while not explaining why they are so inept.....NEWS FLASH: Obama WANTS the connection to ISIS and EACH AND EVERY Mooslim Bruthahood terrorist group, with the continued support of the 5th column fellow travelers of the media to hide his true intentions from the American people in this most un-American, corrupt, contemptible, Godless, racist administration (organized crime syndicate) in our nation's history. God please, keep us safe in the days to come....Amen.

Remember BENGHAZI!
29 weeks ago
29 weeks ago Link To Comment
"Assad and ISIS More ‘Intimately Interwound’ Than Ever"

Not nearly as much as Obama/McCain and ISIS are ‘Intimately Interwound’. Obama sends them arms and McCain has his picture taken with them, his friends.
29 weeks ago
29 weeks ago Link To Comment
Photos of Senator McCain “chillin’” with ISIS Leaders in Syria Before Their Rampage Through Iraq.

http://www.theminorityreportblog.com/2014/06/22/photos-of-senator-mccain-chillin-with-isis-leaders-in-syria-before-their-rampage-through-iraq/
29 weeks ago
29 weeks ago Link To Comment
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