Al Nusra Front was the backbone of the revolt against Bashar Assad. It was their fighters who had won the victories against the Syrian Army, Hizb’Allah and Iranian Basij. Unlike other al-Qaeda outfits, they made alliance with other groups and for the time being tolerated Christians. But success brings envy.
Al Nusra has been al-Qaeda’s biggest success to date. Unlike other al-Qaeda affiliates, they actually won battles and were even viewed as legitimate by the local Syrian people. Al Qaeda central did not like this and jealousy ensued. Al-Qaeda in Iraq moved in and began to take away fighters from this al-Qaeda subsidiary with the blessings of Ayman al-Zawahiri. Now the Syrian element of al Nusra have broken from that organization and are joining the Free Syrian Army and Ahrar al-Sham.
Some of its fighters have withdrawn from the front line against the Assad regime in the northern Syrian city of Aleppo, rebel leaders there have told The Daily Telegraph, and appear to have turned their back on their Syrian leader.
Many Jabhat fighters had been recruited from other, rival militias with the promise of better-funded and better-organised units rather than for ideological reasons.
But they are said to have become disillusioned since their Syrian leader, Abu Mohammed al-Jolani, affirmed his loyalty to al-Qaeda after an apparent takeover at the top of Jabhat by hardline jihadists from Iraq.
“The group has split,” Mohammed Najib Bannan, the head of the Aleppo Judicial Committee’s military arm, said. The committee is backed by the major rebel brigades and runs civil and criminal courts in Aleppo alongside the city’s Sharia court.
Jabhat fighters in the east of the country had started calling themselves the “Islamic State of Iraq and Syria” on videos posted online – the name preferred by the international al-Qaeda leadership. They include a group that carried out a public execution of three regime officers in the town square in Raqqa last week.
Ayman al-Zawahiri, al-Qaeda’s leader since the death of Osama bin Laden, appointed Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the former head of the Islamic State of Iraq, head of a new merged organisation. Al-Jolani apparently acquiesced in this move after initially opposing it.
Baghdadi is regarded as committed to using intense violence for sectarian purposes and to break down society in such a way to give “space” for jihad to flourish. He proclaims the need for an international caliphate, ending national borders.
Many Jabhat fighters say they are Syrians first and joined Jabhat just to rid the country of President Bashar al-Assad, and because the brigade was considered less corrupt and more religious.
Al Nusra was not al-Qaeda enough for al-Zawahiri and he ordered his henchmen in Al-Qaeda in Iraq to take over. This has caused a halt to rebel gains and Assad is now on the offensive in the Damascus and Homs province with the help of Hizb’Allah and Iranians who no longer have to worry about facing al-Nusra.
The result of the demise of al-Nusra means that the likelihood of US intervention and/or openly supplying the rebels will increase. The Syrian rebels can now claim that they are not al-Qaeda. This will be the excuse Obama uses to justify his arming of the rebels. They may not be al-Qaeda, but they are still Islamists.
The demise of al-Nusra shows the backward nature of Islamic thinking. Instead of applauding Nusra’s success, the parent organization was jealous and ended it.