Saturday 24 February 2018

David Blair and Richard Spencer: A shadowy hand at work in Syria ...

An anti-government protester paints the colours of the national flags of Yemen and Syria around his eyes during a march in solidarity with the people of Syria in Sanaa February 12, 2012. REUTERS/Mohamed al-Sayaghi (YEMEN - Tags: POLITICS CIVIL UNREST)
An anti-government protester paints the colours of the national flags of Yemen and Syria around his eyes during a march in solidarity with the people of Syria in Sanaa February 12, 2012. REUTERS/Mohamed al-Sayaghi (YEMEN - Tags: POLITICS CIVIL UNREST)

More than four decades ago, al-Qa'ida's new leader began his career in global jihad by preaching rebellion against Egypt's secular regime. With that long pedigree as a revolutionary, Ayman al-Zawahiri will know that it's bad form to be late to an insurrection.

At first glance, the spectacle of al-Qa'ida issuing a message of support for the uprising against President Bashar al-Assad of Syria -- thereby placing itself on the same side as the West -- might appear puzzling, and even unsettling. "Onwards, lions of Syria," Zawahiri told Assad's enemies in his second public address since taking over from Osama bin Laden in June.

Wagging his right index finger for emphasis, he praised the "proud ones, the honourable free ones" who have taken up arms in Syria.

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