BEIRUT — A Syrian rebel group's pledge of allegiance to al-Qaeda's replacement for Osama bin Laden suggests that the terrorist group's influence is not waning and that it may take a greater role in the Western-backed fight to topple Syrian President Bashar Assad.
The pledge of allegiance by Syrian Jabhat al Nusra Front chief Abou Mohamad al-Joulani to al-Qaeda leader Sheik Ayman al-Zawahri was coupled with an announcement by the al-Qaeda affiliate in Iraq, the Islamic State of Iraq, that it would work with al Nusra as well.
Lebanese Sheik Omar Bakri, a Salafist who says states must be governed by Muslim religious law, says al-Qaeda has assisted al Nusra for some time.
"They provided them early on with technical, military and financial support , especially when it came to setting up networks of foreign jihadis who were brought into Syria," Bakri says. "There will certainly be greater coordination between the two groups."
The United States, which supports the overthrow of Assad, designated al Nusra a terrorist entity in December. The Obama administration has said it wants to support only those insurgent groups that are not terrorist organizations.
Al Nusra and groups like it have seen some of the most significant victories against Syrian government forces in the course of the 2-year-old uprising in which Assad's forces have killed about 80,000 people. Rebels not affiliated with al-Qaeda have pressed Washington for months to send weaponry that will allow them to match the heavy weapons of the Syrian army. They've urged the West to mount an air campaign against Assad's mechanized forces.
President Obama refuses to provide any direct military aid. Foreign radical Islamists streaming into the fight from the Middle East and Europe are making headway with the Syrian population by providing services and gaining ground in battles.
Tamer Mouhieddine, spokesman for the Syrian Free Army, a force made up of Syrian soldiers who have defected, said the recent announcements would not change his group's attitude toward al Nusra.
"The rebels in Syria have one common enemy — Bashar Assad — and they will collaborate with any faction allowing them to topple his regime," he said.
He confirmed that al Nusra is generating loyalty in Aleppo, a region battling for months with Assad, by providing financial support as well as setting up charities.
Aaron Zelin at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy in Washington says al Nusra's ability to provide security and basic needs such as bread and fuel to Syrian civilians, as well as to reopen shops and restart bus services, has won gratitude from people who would not usually adhere to its strict ideology.
Zelin says some Syrian people have criticized al Nusra for banning alcohol, forcing women to wear a full veil and whipping men who are seen with women in public.
"This illustrates the need for American leadership in the Syrian conflict, particularly with regard to helping non-Qaeda-aligned rebels contain the growth of (al Nusra) and similar groups," he said. "Washington should also try to take advantage of cleavages within the rebellion and civilian population, since al Nusra is outside the mainstream and more concerned with establishing a transnational caliphate than maintaining the Syrian state."
Groups such as the Islamic Liwaa al Tawhid, which collaborates with al Nusra on military operations, worried that Assad would use the announcement from al Nusra as evidence for his claim that he is fighting terrorists, not Syrian citizens who wish an end to his dictatorship, Mouhieddine said.
"We are willing to fight alongside any faction targeting the Assad regime, as long as it does not have a foreign agenda, which seems now the case" of al Nusra, he said.
This entire region is due to explode. Obama has purposly allowed terrorists to take over...aided and abetted them.
O is also giving them our money and jets and tanks so they can take full control of the middle east.. Don't for get under Sharia Law once you are a muslim you have to be one forever or DIE and O was raised a muslim right along with over half the wh staff is now...
Another war that looks like congress will not authorize -- we just send our troops in.
The situation in Syria seems like a quagmire in the making for the United States. We want Bashar Asad out and some other power in, but what group is that? I wonder if we have a chance at this late stage of the game to even know who or what group to back. As noted in the article above
"President Obama refuses to provide any direct military aid. Foreign radical Islamists streaming into the fight from the Middle East and Europe are making headway with the Syrian population by providing services and gaining ground in battles."
So, how do we counter this and who do we support? It's all very murky, are there any major groups in Syria that don't want to impose Sharia law and that we could influence to any degree??
Obama has made the situation worse by not supporting those who could/would be against Islamic domination, but Islam has been on the rise for many years before he came into power. and by not recognizing the danger it poses and letting PC run amuck over here he endangers the United States.
Their idea of living in peace with others who are not Muslim doesn't exist in radical Islam. Their idea of peace is called "hudna", which means a temporary truce until they are strong enough to overcome you.
Just read about the execution of the 14 year old boy for supposedly insulting Mohammed. These rebels are horrible. No, I don't want to support them.
Also think of this, since O has been in office look at all the Chemical trains that have been wrecked and burned and the chemical factories have been blown up and refinery's that have been blown since O went into the office.. And none of them have had a reason given on how they were wrecked or blown up, for the gov is keeping that info under raps to keep the people quiet about who is doing all the damage since there are over 35 muslim training camps across the USA and our gov is not telling the people what the terrorist are really getting ready to do like they have done and doing in the middle east.
Not to take away from this mess.....but.....Don't forget it's Flag Day today. Fly your American flag as high as you can!!! I fly mine everyday.
As for idiot.....There isn't enough room on this page to express my EXTREME disgust with everything that o'bum-fuzzled has done and is doing to America.
And Turkey will not be far behind...