Beirut- Al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri gave on Sunday his political, religious and financial backing to the organization’s Syrian off-shoot al-Nusra Front and handed over the reins of the caliphate to al-Nusra Front leader in Syria Abu Mohammad al-Julani, who is expected to officially announce the decision next month.
Al-Zawahiri refused to separate al-Nusra Front from the main organization, a source from Jaish al-Fatah (Army of Conquest) said. Jaish al-Fatah, abbreviated JaF, is a joint operations room of Syrian rebel factions participating in the Syrian civil war.
In light of the ongoing brushes between the two terrorist factions, ISIS and al-Nusra Front, the latter will announce its caliphate in the North which is parallel in power to the ISIS stronghold present in east Syria.
Al-Nusra Front, two weeks ago, began expanding the Army of Conquest’s military front and strengthening relationships with smaller factions. Some suggest that the Front will later include several factions in a caliphate which would be called “Shura Council” (consultative council).
Carrying on with their 2015 ploy on zeroing in on moderate opposition factions and eliminating U.S.-backed groups, al-Nusra Front plans to take advantage of the factions’ withdrawal in the battlefield.
This is also the second time this year that al-Zawahiri gives emphasis to the presence of al-Nusra Front in Syria.
“We have repeatedly mentioned that if al-Sham people (Syrians), being brave hearted righteous jihadists, establish a Muslim government and elect their own Imam, then their choice is ours,” al-Zawahiri said.
Al-Nusra Front, now more than ever, seems to reject relinquishing loyalty to al Qaeda as to answer the calls for uniting all Syrian Opposition factions.
Abderrahman al Haj, renowned Syrian Opposition figure, explained that after the legitimacy spawned argument putting both ISIS and al-Nusra Front in a boxing arena, the latter had no choice but to hold tight to its relationship with al Qaeda.
Al Haj pointed out that al-Nusra Front had been inquiring on whether its disengagement from al Qaeda would halt operations against its militants and whether it would be enough for the international community to support the Syrian Opposition Free Syrian Army (FSA). They also queried whether the attacks targeting the opposition would come to an end, al Haj added.
Being an expert on extremist groups, al Haj said that al-Nusra Front is persistent on keeping its global dimensions; because it would directly stream into recruitment and armament, and help it fight ISIS. Its international presence also provides the backbone to its supply and foreign funding.
He also added that should al-Nusra Front part with al Qaeda, it will lose foreigners who are a key to leaderships, especially the Jordanian fighters who have major influence over the al Qaeda “Shura Council”; that alternatively translates into the extremist ideology monopolizing the faction is in essence non-Syrian, al Haj concluded.