According to RT, Russia's most popular newspaper, al-Qaeda is supporting Syrian rebels:
The leader of Al-Qaeda has voiced his support for the Syrian uprising. He called on Muslims to join the opposition in Syria in their drive to oust President Bashar Assad.
In an eight-minute video address posted on Sunday on a jihadist website, Ayman al-Zawahri called on Muslims in Turkey, Iraq, Lebanon and Jordan to aid the Syrian rebels.
"Continue your revolt and anger, don't accept anything else apart from independent, respectful governments," the successor of Osama Bin Laden urged the Syrians.
He also called on Syrians not to rely on Western or Arab governments, whom he said would impose a new regime subservient to the West.
What this development will mean in practical terms for Western nations isn't clear at this point. That said, if Western leaders believed that the Arab League could reign in Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad, by now they must realize that they were wrong. The RT article says that a "joint UN-Arab League observer mission to Syria is on the table." That may be true, but judging by the dismal failure of the previous AL observer mission, we shouldn't be sanguine about the prospects for another observer mission even if (or possibly especially if) it involves the U.N.
It makes sense that al-Zawahri would delay his endorsement of the rebel cause until he was confident that they would succeed. A couple of days ago, Israel National News reported that Assad has sent his children to Europe. That might suggest that Mr. Assad isn't certain about his own fate much less his ability to protect his family and that the timing of al-Zawahri's pronouncement wasn't coincidental.
Whatever the truth is, it will be interesting to see which way Syria turns if/when Syrian rebels finally oust Assad. Since Syria is Israel's northeast neighbor and a key player in Middle Eastern political affairs, we should pay close attention to these developments because the outcome of this struggle will impact the national security of every Western nation, particularly Israel.
Neil Snyder is a chaired professor emeritus at the University of Virginia. His blog, SnyderTalk.com, is posted daily.