Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Kerry Meets Syrian Opposition, Hinting More Aid to Come; Syrian Rebels Announce Merger With Al-Qaeda

Obama's "smart diplomacy" in action.

Secretary of State John Kerry met today with leaders of the Syrian opposition, after indicating the U.S. is preparing to distribute more aid to rebels seeking the ouster of President Bashar al-Assad. [...]

At stake is whether the U.S. will move beyond food and medical supplies to give fighters items such as body armor and night-vision goggles.
The leader of a militant group fighting on the side of Syria's rebels has for the first time pledged allegiance to al-Qaeda and the militant network's No. 1, Ayman al-Zawahri.

In an audio message Wednesday, Abu Mohammad al-Golani also confirms ties with al-Qaeda's Iraq branch but says that he wasn't consulted ahead of an announcement on the two groups' merger.

Al-Qaeda's branch in Iraq on Tuesday announced it joined forces with the Syrian group, and that the new union will be called the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant.

The Levant is the traditional name referring to the region from southern Turkey to Egypt on the eastern Mediterranean.