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Translated by Sufyan Jan

14:23:29
16/10/2016

Written by Elijah J. Magnier

 

When Russia intervened in Syria, Al-Qaeda were on the verge of announcing the completion of the pre-arrangements needed for an Islamic Emirate, with all the legislative institutions in Idlib, without ever needing to announce the actual resurrection of an Emirate, to avoid public scrutiny. At the time the SAA were in retreat in major cities and their country sides, especially Aleppo, even Hama.

A year into Russia’s intervention and the existence of Al-Qaeda under the guise of Fath Al-Sham is the major stumbling block to a US/Russian agreement. During meetings between Lavrov and Kerry this is the one point they never agree on, the possibility of an Islamic Emirate for Al-Qaeda in Syria to be established is nigh on impossible, pending developments, of course.

Though Jabhat Fath Al-Sham’s absorption of the radicals in Jund Al-Aqsa gave them a fresh and new momentum, and a significant increase in their man power and military hardware, this has further complicated matters in the Levant, since now they are a major force as opposed to the “Moderate opposition”, whose leadership both the US and Russia can communicate with it’s leaderships, either directly or indirectly.

When the War in Syria erupted in 2011, the head of the Islamic State of Iraq Abu-Bakr Al-Baghdadi sent one of his military commanders along with a team and cash to establish a base for “Jihadists”, that would act as a preface to the expansion of the Islamic state into Syria. Heading this delegation was the Syrian national Abu Mohammad Al-Joulani, who founded Jabhat Al-Nusra, and fought great battles, loosing many of his men, which got him close to the heart of Damascus. Though his many victories, and the respect he earned from the local opposition groups-including those supported by Washington, made Baghdadi suspicious, as a result Baghdadi hurried his announcement of the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (Translator note: ISIL; which includes Lebanon and Jordan, to say their ambition stops in Damascus is foolish, just ask Sultan Erdogan). Al-Joulani who knows the history of Muslim rulers, and their betrayals since the death of the Prophet, so he went his own way and announced his bay’ah (pledge of allegiance) to Al-Qaeda leader in Afghanistan, Sheikh Ayman Al-Zawahiri, who found an it to be an opportune moment to revive the spirit of Jihad after multiple American blows.

To conquer the Levant is the dream of all Islamists and Jihadists, including Al-Zawahiri who became after Al-Joulani’s pledge on top of a considerable force of Jihadists with him in the driving seat not just in Yemen but also now in Syria. This caused fierce battles to ensue between both groups whenever they come across each other on the ground, to see who controls this ancient land.

As far as Al-Joulani was concerned he was extremely shrewd, he bent wherever the wind blew. When Washington decided to bomb Al-Nusra, and the opposition accused the front of implementing a foreign agenda, Al-Joulani said that his organization does not have any connections with outside forces, members of the group saw it as a disengagement, and although most of his council was comprised of old jihadists from Al-Qaeda, it didn’t stop the new name to be accepted between different opposition groups, and so the new name would become Jabhat Fath Al-Sham. (Translator note: These people make Hollywood look like amateurs).

Jabhat Fath Al-Sham led the offenses in Aleppo, and they were able to break the siege imposed on Eastern Aleppo that held for several weeks, but it came at a high cost more than 1000 fighters were killed, among them were moderate opposition forces. Except they were forced again to pay a heavy price, since the Russians were determined to surround the city. And so Russian War planes let loose their ferocity on the Jihadists and re-established the siege around the city. The Jihadists along with the moderate opposition were forced to attend to their wounds, American diplomacy gave them time recover and replenish and prepare for a new series of battles in and around Aleppo. The main reason for the failure of the cease fire is the US’s unwillingness to separate the moderates from the jihadists, fighting tooth and nail to keep both forces unified and in sync, so that a fight does not start between opposition forces with others who are determined to establish an Islamic Emirate in the Levant.

The shrewdness of Al-Joulani allowed him to remain within the ranks of the moderate opposition and use them as canon fodder, not withstanding the differences in the final goal and methods used. These differences are not exclusive against Nusra but includes the moderate opposition and other jihadist groups such as Jund Al-Aqsa that operates in the North, and was accused several times of carrying out ISIS’ agenda.

And so clashes ensued between Ahrar Al-Sham supported by Turkey and Jund Al-Aqsa, causing the death of tens of fighters on both sides. Jund Al-Aqsa were accused of being “Khawarjites” and of Apostasy (Translator note: Just for good measure, eh?, for those who don’t know that kind of declaration is an over kill), and over 15 scholars in Syria found that they need to eradicated and destroyed. Ahrar Al-Sham were able to gain some check points and other positions in a few hours, and offered them to surrender themselves and their weaponry and HQ’s, immediately. Except that the Saudi Sheikh Al-Muhaysani was able to intecede on their behalf and suggested that Jund Al-Aqsa be integrated into Jabhat Fath Al-Sham. And so the leader of Jund Al-Aqsa Sheikh Abu-Diyab Al-Sarmini along with Al-Joulani signed an agreement of Jund Al-Aqsa’s subservience to Jabhat Fath Al-Sham, and any further issues with Ahrar Al-Sham will be turned to the Shariah court.

This announcement produced quite a stir, the spokesperson of Ahrar Al-Sham Ahmad Qurrah Ali said “There is no truth in rumors of an agreement”, and also the commander of Jund Al-Aqsa in Hama Abu Thar Al-Jazrawi said that he is not interested in any merger. A few hours later, all voices of opposition were silenced, everyone within Jund Al-Aqsa including Abu Thar Al-Najdi, AbdulHakim Al-Jazrawi, Abu Ahmad Al-Qatari, Abu Ammar Al-Masry, and Abu Hamza Al-Yemeni gave their pledge of allegiance, and so it became that Jabhat Fath Al-Sham had grew quite stronger, and with this merger Jabhat Al-Sham were able to open a new front and started an offensive in Hama and were able to take control of several SAA positions. This new merger has it’s positives and negatives:

1. The agreement gives Russia a stronger argument against the US, who are trying to preserve Al-Qaeda in Syria due to the existence of many foreign fighters in their ranks, especially that now Jund Al-Aqsa has merged with them, who are on the US’s terror list. Can Washington ignore this?, it’s possible, Obama’s strategy dictates that he preserves the balance and equilibrium of the situation to when the new President can come in.

2. The agreement gives Jabhat Fath Al-Sham a greater impetus, if it can hold the reins of it’s newest members (Jund al-Aqsa) following the doctrine of waging jihad where and how you can and accept Syria as the only arena, until such time that they are strong  enough to impose Shariah law, which prohibits them from allying with the secular Free Syrian Army.

3. The integration of “Jund al-Aqsa” opens the door to other jihadist organizations to join Jabhat Fath Al-Sham, which would increase their strength and their prestige. This doubles the risk of clashing with the organization or antagonizing it or staying away from it to become the prey of any future understanding between Russia and the US, because it would lead to the defeat of both sides and much blood spilt that none of the opposition groups can bare.

Thus it remains that the Russian presence in Syria is central, to preventing the establishment of any future emirate. Russia considers Syria to be a red line, and is prepared – as was conveyed by the Foreign Minister and the military leadership – to hit anyone (even the United States) if the Syrian army were attacked, and this shows the importance of Syria to Russia, and it would remain in Syria for an indefinite period, and will use all kinds of weapons that it needs to use to prevent jihadists from forming any long-term entity. This promises to be a long war in Syria, due to the lack of all sides to bend to the will of the other.

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