Former IS hostage Nicolas Hénin argues that Assad will never be a serious ally in fighting jihadisby Nicolas Hénin and Martin Makinson / December 18, 2015 / Leave a comment
In the wake of the 13th November terrorist attacks that left 130 people dead in Paris, France has declared it is now a nation “at war” against Islamic State (IS). Britain has now joined them in striking IS in Syria. The Paris attacks were immediately condemned by the leaders of most nations across the world. One of the first condemnations came from Bashar al-Assad, the Syrian President responsible for 90 per cent of the 250,000 people dead since March 2011. “France has known what we have been living in Syria” for four years, he said. Assad blamed the attacks on French foreign policy. The Syrian President was referring to France’s demand—an increasingly isolated one—that makes Assad’s departure a priority prior to any transition process in Syria.
Yet far from being an enemy of the jihadists, as he presents himself, Assad has had an active role in developing and strengthening jihadist movements since the very beginning of the Syrian revolution. Well before IS spilled into Syria, he assisted two Salafi groups, Jaysh ash-Sham and Jabhat an-Nusra, by freeing their leaders. He has refrained from attacking IS, which has concentrated mostly on spreading its terror and control in Syria at the expense of other rebel groups. These rebels’ priority is fighting the Syrian dictatorship. They have been both largely betrayed and abandoned by the west since the start…