NEWS AND VIEWS THAT IMPACT LIMITED CONSTITUTIONAL GOVERNMENT
"There is danger from all men. The only maxim of a free government ought to be to trust no man living with
power to endanger the public liberty." - - - - John Adams
Monday, May 9, 2016
Al-Qaeda may form own 'Islamic state' in Syria
(The Telegraph) - The leader of al-Qaeda has ordered the group's Syrian branch to form its own "emirate" to challenge the West in competition with the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isil).
Ayman al-Zawahiri, Osama bin Laden’s successor, gave his backing to a plan for Jabhat al-Nusra to create al-Qaeda's first sovereign state.
If the plan is carried out it could see two “Islamic states” - Isil and the new al-Qaeda emirate - competing for territory and influence within the borders of war-torn Syria.
His announcement, in a speech recorded and posted online, followed multiplying reports that he has sent his senior lieutenants into north-west Syria to take advantage of the chaos induced by five years of civil war.
Jabhat al-Nusra, which was set up by Isil's leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi but split from him in 2013, fights alongside a number of other Islamist rebel groups in the Syrian war.
During the ceasefire, some more secular groups turned on it, criticising its attempts to apply a harsh version of Sharia law in areas where it was powerful. But as the ceasefire has crumbled, it has led a number of joint attacks on regime positions.
Analysts in contact with other rebel groups were already predicting it would become more brutal in enforcing its social codes. The United States and its western allies also fear that if it establishes territorial control it could use Syria as a base for attacking the West, as Osama bin Laden did in Afghanistant.
The decision marks a change in strategy for al-Qaeda, which has focused on building its networks and support base in Syria and around the region. But Zawahiri has been under pressure to assert himself as Baghdadi's "caliphate" in Iraq and Syria has become the public face of international jihad and a powerful rival reruitment tool for would-be jihadists.
Gulf states like Qatar have also been trying to persuade Jabhat al-Nusra intermediaries to disavow al-Qaeda and throw in their lot with other, Syria-focused rebel groups in return for aid, so he may have felt the need to reassert central control.
Zawahiri, who is in hiding and has a $25 million US bounty on his head, said he was “proud” of Jabhat al-Nusra’s work and its connection to al-Qaeda.
“If they create their government, and choose their emir, what they choose is our choice,” he said.