There is a Bulgarian proverb that says "grab opportunity by the beard, for it is bald behind". That is exactly what alqaeda is doing these days in both Syria and Iraq. Al-Qaeda found an unprecedented intersection of opportunities in Syria's increasing sectarian violence - as it did in Iraq -, the Assad regime's animosity with the West, and the American withdrawal from Iraq.
Since the Syrian revolution started in March last year, the violent repression has radicalized every bit of it. Even Syrian intellectuals in the opposition now say that common sense has thinned down. The Arab Digest has been reporting for months on the increasingly Sectarianism of the Free Syrian Army; the prominence of Islamists in FSA ranks. We have spotted the use of Al-Qaeda books in Syrian opposition websites; in particular, there was an interest in the writings of Veteran Jihadist, Mustafa Setmariam Nassar, aka Abu Mussab alSuri.
Another Al-Qaeda opportunity is the regime's recent animosity with the United States. This meant halting all cooperation with the CIA in the War on Terror. In an act of obvious, Al-Suri who was arrested by the U.S., then sent to Syria on a rendition flight, was released from jail. Al-Qaeda has been given full reign.
Earlier this month, the director of national intelligence, James Clapper, told the Senate Armed Services Committee that he believed Al-Qaeda in Iraq had infiltrated Syrian opposition groups, and was behind bombings in Damascus and Aleppo. The New York Times also reported that Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, put it during Senate testimony on Tuesday, “Those who would like to foment a Sunni-Shia standoff — and you know who they are — are all weighing in in Syria.”Ayman al-Zawahri, who succeeded Osama Bin Laden as the leader of Al-Qaeda, issued a statement recently urging Muslims in the region — he specifically mentioned Iraq — to support the uprising.
What will happen next is a surge in Sectarian language in Syria, and selected targeting of minorities; Al-Qaeda's actions will vindicate the Syrian regime's rhetoric on the revolution, generating mutual benefits. The organisation will appear as the "protector of Sunnis in Syria and Iraq"; this will guarantee its resurgence after the initial shock of the Arab Spring.