With the June 13, 2013 confirmation by senior Obama administration officials that the president has authorized sending weapons directly to Syrian rebels, there is a trend developing that can no longer be ignored. This is the third country and the third instance in which Barack Obama has leapt into the fray of revolution to the defense of al-Qa'eda and Muslim Brotherhood forces within days of an explicit call for action by Yousef al-Qaradawi, the senior jurist of the Muslim Brotherhood. While no ironclad case for linkage can be proven, even just the appearance, in and of itself, of responsiveness by the U.S. government to declared Brotherhood imperatives ought to be concerning.
Speaking on Al-Arabiya Television on June 9, 2013, al-Qaradawi called for jihad in Syria:
Jihad is now incumbent upon all Muslims, each according to his capabilities – both individuals and countries. Nobody must spare a thing in helping this country…
Four days later, on June 13, Ben Rhodes, the Deputy National Security Advisor for Strategic Communications, announced that the intelligence community had arrived at an assessment "that the Assad regime has used chemical weapons, including the nerve agent sarin, on a small scale against the opposition multiple times in the last year." This conveniently-timed and entirely unsourced finding set the stage for the White House announcement the next day about Obama's authorization of military aid to the Syrian rebels. The Supreme Military Council, which claims leadership of the Muslim Brotherhood-dominated Free Syrian Army and is headed by BG Salim Idriss, has been selected to receive the weapons.
This pattern of an al-Qaradawi pronouncement quickly followed by White House action began in Egypt in January 2011. On January 26, 2011, speaking in an interview on Al-Jazeera television, al-Qaradawi issued an unambiguous demand that Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak step down:
"President Mubarak … I advise you to depart from Egypt … There is no other solution to this problem but for Mubarak to go…"
By January 29, a mere three days later, Obama fell in line and told Mubarak that "an orderly transition must …begin now…"
It was not long afterwards—on February 21, 2011—that al-Qaradawi issued a fatwa, again on Al-Jazeera television, calling for the killing of Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi. The Islamic revolution against Qaddafi's regime had broken out just days before, on February 17. The news that President Obama had signed a secret order, known as a "presidential finding," to authorize covert U.S. government support for the al-Qa'eda-dominated militias then fighting to oust Qaddafi, emerged in late March 2011. Reports cited "government sources," however, who said the president had signed the finding "within the last two or three weeks." In any event, by March 14, 2011, U.S. envoy Christopher Stevens had been named official liaison to the Libyan opposition, which consisted primarily of al-Qa'eda militias such as Ansar al-Shariah, the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG), and Libya Shield. The president's cover story about intervening in the Libyan uprising cited a pending "massacre" in Benghazi "that would have….stained the conscience of the world." Of course, there was no such massacre in the offing, but rather the very real possibility that Benghazi, the center of the rebel uprising, might have fallen to Qaddafi's advancing forces. Had Benghazi fallen, the jihad offensive in Libya could well have been stopped in its tracks. So, once again, the U.S. administration lost no time in hopping to follow al-Qaradawi's lead after he called for another Islamic Awakening domino to fall.
It might be noted that a similar sequence of events in Syria apparently precipitated the al-Qaradawi call for jihad against Bashar al-Assad and his Shi'ite Iranian and Hizballah backers as well as the U.S. administration's pledge to send weapons (openly) to the Syrian rebels. It was the fall of rebel-held Qusayr to Syrian regime forces on June 5, 2013 that seemed to spur both the al-Qaradawi jihad fatwa and Obama's decision to follow suit and expand assistance to the al-Qa'eda and Muslim Brotherhood-led rebels.
In each of these instances — Egypt, Libya, and now Syria — it is "completely clear," as Barry Rubin writes, "that the United States is backing people who hate it." It is also completely clear that, at least since President Obama green-lighted the Islamic Awakening in his June 2009 Cairo speech, U.S. policy has been turned upside-down: in very tangible terms, the U.S. government has joined the forces of jihad to overthrow the unfaithful Arab and Muslim rulers that the Muslim Brotherhood Supreme Guide Muhammad Badi so blatantly threatened (along with the U.S. and Israel) in his late September 2010 call for jihad. In so doing, U.S. leadership is deliberately and proactively enabling the self-declared forces of Islamic jihad and shariah, who make no secret of their enmity and loathing for the U.S. and Western civilization in general, to come to power in country after country of the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region.
The results have been disastrous. Christians in Libya, Egypt, and rebel-conquered Syrian territory face attack, ethnic cleansing and slaughter. Strict shariah enforcement is spreading across the region. Since the fall of Qaddafi in October 2011, weapons have been flowing out of Libya in all directions, some of the weapons apparently with the active assistance of the former Benghazi U.S. mission, now closed since the al-Qa'eda attack of 11 September 11, 2012. According to a Libyan intelligence official, speaking to a reporter in a May 2013 interview, Libya has now become the main MENA base for Al-Qa'eda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM). "Libya has become AQIM's headquarters," he said, adding that new AQIM terror training camps were opening in the southern part of the country. Egypt, especially in the Sinai, is in no better shape. After falling under the control of the Muslim Brotherhood, Egypt faces economic disaster, its Coptic Christian minority fears genocide, and its leaders call Israel and America its enemies. In Syria, intrepid reporting from the front lines confirms the jihadist objectives of the anti-Assad coalition that now includes openly pro-shariah fighters from both Muslim Brotherhood and al-Qa'eda (Jabhat al-Nusra) militias. McClatchy Newspapers' David Enders reported in December 2012 that one of these shouted, "When we finish with Assad, we will fight the U.S.!" at him when told he was an American journalist.
"We have come full circle from going after al Qaeda to indirectly backing al Qaeda," said one U.S. official, speaking about the recent decision to arm these jihadist Syrian rebels. Angelo Codevilla, professor of international relations at Boston University, a former U.S. Naval officer and State Department official, and currently senior fellow at the Claremont Institute, might well have been speaking about the entire contingent of Islamic jihadis with which the U.S. has now associated itself when he summed up the Syrian rebels, saying "They are not our friends and are unlikely to become such."
The sooner U.S. senior leadership realizes that, whether Shi'ite or Sunni, jihadis fight for the same objectives — restoration of the Caliphate (or Imamate) and enforcement of Islamic Law — the better for American core national security interests. Of course, on battlefields such as Iraq and Syria, they go after one another as they always have for the last 1300 and more years; but when it comes to the Dar al-Islam vs. the Dar al-Harb, Shi'a and Sunni find common cause in hating the infidel with an even greater intensity than they hate one another. There are battlefields where U.S. intervention can accomplish good; and there are battlefields such as Libya, Egypt, and Syria where appearing to jump to the tune of Muslim Brotherhood fatwas does no good, and arguably much harm, to U.S. interests and image.