On the 11 December the US State Department finally officially recognised that Jabhat al-Nusrah, which constitutes the shock troops of the Syrian rebels, is in fact an alias of Al-Qaeda in Iraq:
The Department of State has amended the Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO) and Executive Order (E.O.) 13224 designations of al-Qa’ida in Iraq (AQI) to include the following new aliases: al-Nusrah Front, Jabhat al-Nusrah, Jabhet al-Nusra, The Victory Front, and Al-Nusrah Front for the People of the Levant.
Also on 11 December, in an interview with Barbara Waters on ABC News, President Obama declared that
“We’ve made a decision that the Syrian Opposition Coalition is now inclusive enough, is reflective and representative enough of the Syrian population that we consider them the legitimate representative of the Syrian people in opposition to the Assad regime.”
On 12 December it was reported that the Syrian National Coalition (SNC) leader, Sheik Ahmad Moaz al-Khatib, stood firmly by Al Qaeda saying,
The logic under which we consider one of the parts that fights against the Assad regime is a terrorist organization is a logic one must reconsider.
No to the Interference of America — We Are All Jabhat al-Nusra.
Certainly, our investigations indicate there is little to choose between the FSA brigades and Al-Nusrah in terms of atrocities and use of child soldiers. It was reportedly an FSA brigade, for instance. that used a child to execute a prisoner in Homs.
Anyway, we are now left with a situation where the US has recognised as the legitimate representative of the Syrian people a council which has, at least, great sympathy for Al Qaeda and whose armed fighters declare that they are Al Qaeda.
The last time the Americans allied with Al Qaeda it ended badly. In this conflict Al Qaeda is reportedly keen to get its hands on chemical weapons factories and bombs, which a collapse of Syrian government authority would make highly probable, leaving western foreign policy in utter disarray.
How much better it would have been for western leaders to have pursued a foreign policy in accordance with international law, in opposition to the illegal support of armed terrorist gangs and in genuine support of a peaceful resolution in the interests of all the Syrian people.