Unrest in Iraq has grabbed the headlines in recent days – the government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki is busy fighting against militants from Al-Qaeda who have managed to seize territory.
The threat to stability posed by Al-Qaeda militants has prompted Washington to act forcefully, as American political and military officials have expedited shipments of U.S. weapons and military equipment to confront the threat.
Move a couple of hundred kilometers west, however, and one enters the bizarre world of Washington’s policy on the Syria crisis.
The U.S. has lectured its would-be allies in the Syrian opposition that they are somehow at fault for allowing the spread of Al-Qaeda militants in the country. It has declined to empower the rebels against Syrian President Bashar Assad’s government, fearing that any help might somehow help the extremists from Al-Qaeda.
Meanwhile, the first week of 2014 has seen mainstream and moderate Islamist rebels in Syria launch a fierce campaign against Al-Qaeda, which has been busy terrorizing civilians.
From Washington, there is virtual silence in the wake of this hugely important development, and no indications that the rebels deserve any help against Al-Qaeda.
In Iraq, Maliki faces no questions from Washington about why Al-Qaeda militants have been able to establish a presence, and American help is forthcoming.
In Syria, rebels are blamed for allowing Al-Qaeda to establish itself, and no help is forthcoming.
If it takes its global fight against Al-Qaeda seriously, Washington should be aware that its outrageous double standards are visible for all to see.
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on January 09, 2014, on page 7.