11 Apr 2013

Pouring in: Responses from Syrian Islamist Rebels about Al Qaeda Merger

Syrian rebel groups Liwa Al Islam and Syrian Islamic Liberation Front have issued statements about this week's announcement of a merger between Jabhat al-Nusra, designated by the United States as a terrorist group, and Iraq's Al Qaeda branch. [Translation of the statements below]

Liwa Al Islam says the statement about merging Jabhat al-Nusra with Islamic State of Iraq (ISI) is a dangerous move that will play into the hands of Bashar Al Assad and lead to foreign intervention in Syria. The group insinuates that it will stand by Jabhat al Nusra but it rejects any foreign ties and agendas (but then it justifies this by saying 'because that would open the doors for their enemies to intervene'). The purpose of the statement is unclear, as the group does not distance itself from Jabhat al-Nusra, even affirms that it will continue to fight alongside 'anyone who carries the banners of Monotheism' - Salafi groups - and it emphasises that the statement is counterproductive. 

Syrian Islamic Liberation Front is clear in the statement, unequivocally rejecting the statement from Iraq's Al Qaeda. But it emphasises rejection of any subordination of Syrian Islamist groups to foreign leaders or entities. This confirms my early assessment that Syrian jihadists would reject subordination to Iraq's Al Qaeda. I said in this post: "Even if the statement represents some people within Jabhat al-Nusra, I personally doubt that Syrian jihadists would accept subordination to the Iraqi Al Qaeda".

The Free Syrian Army had also issued a statement earlier distancing itself from Jabhat al-Nusra, saying it will continue to cooperate with all groups against the Baathist regime.

The statement from Liwa Al-Islam:

Liwa Al-Islam
General Command
Communiqué No 66/24-13

"The people of the Levant were all surprised by the announcement made by Islamic State of Iraq on Tuesday 9/4/2013 which suggested that Jabhat al-Nusra is an extension of the Iraqi group and that the names of Jabhat al-Nusra and Islamic State of Iraq have been merged under one name, the Islamic State of Iraq and Levant.
Based on this, Liwa Al Islam’s command believes that this announcement will be an excuse for tyrant Bashar Al Assad and his cronies before the international community to commit more massacres against Syrians, under the pretext of fighting Al Qaeda which is being fought by all the countries in the world, which will justify for the United States and all world countries to intervene in the conflict in Syria, which will reflect badly on the course of events and prolong the life of the regime and increase damage and destruction in the country.
To be more clear, Liwa Al Islam confirms that it stands by all those who fight in Syria under the banner of Monotheism and seeks to liberate it from injustice and oppression, without any foreign ties or agendas to avoid giving the opportunity for all of our enemies who do not wish for Syria and its people any well-being, security and peace."

The statement from Syrian Islamic Liberation Front:

Syrian Islamic Liberation Front expresses its concern and contempt for the speech that circulated on social media websites and what was said about the announcement of Islamic State of Iraq and Levant, as if forming a state can be done via media outlets, and not by liberating the country from this non-Muslim dictatorship. And from obsecure nobodies.
We also express our surprise over this narrow, partisan approach by people far from the arenas of our jihad and do not comprehend our reality and the interests of the blessed revolution. They impose a state on us without consulting us, led by an emir we did not choose or even hear of except through media outlets. 
We in Syria, when we went out and declared jihad against this sectarian regime, we went out to raise the banner of God and not to pledge allegiance to this or that...
Pledging allegiance to someone who does not understand our reality does not server our people or nation, while most of our cities are occupied and the criminal gang is still in power spreading mischief in the land, and while the blood of our people is still being shed. This is not the time for announcing a state, or unifying it with another... 
We think that the above-mentioned is meant to create friction among the mujahideen at a critical time and an attempt to merge conflicts in the regionto serve Bashar Al Assad to inflame the region and gaining help from the outside powers under the pretext of war on terror. 
O mujahideen, Syrian Islamic Liberation Front calls on you to agree on one word and one banner and one row, that is, Islamic banner.. 
We are not in need of imported approaches or new understanding of the religion of the nation. We also do not 'outbidding' by someone against someone else.  

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