Al-Qaeda to Announce an Islamic State in Syria, FSA Claims
Al-Qaeda is about to announce an Islamic State in northern Syria, says a senior figure in the Free Syrian Army (FSA), according to a report in Asharq Al-Awsat.
Asking to remain anonymous, the source said the time for the announcement was confirmed to be the first day of Eid, at the end of Ramadan which is August 7, 2013.
The report continues that the source claimed implementation of this plan started with the killing of FSA commander Kamal Hamami, Fadi El-Qash and his brother last week, as reported by Progressive Press. More assassinations of the FSA officers and key figures will likely follow if Al-Qaeda wants full domination of the region to control arms supply routes, and to raise funds by smuggling crude oil.
On April 7, 2013, Al-Qaeda Central’s leader Ayman al-Zawahiri released a video message calling for unification of the jihad in Syria. Two days after this message, the leader of the Islamic State of Iraq, Sheikh Abu Bakr al-Husseini al-Qurashi al-Baghdadi released an audio message announcing the extension of its “Islamic State” into al-Sham (the Levant), effectively bringing Syrian jihadist rebel group Jabhat al-Nusra (JN) into the fold. The new group is called the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS).
Jabhat al-Nusra has been playing an integral role on the battlefield and is known for its well organized force and discipline. JN also has been playing an important role in the governance of villages and parts of cities in northern and eastern Syria, in cooperation with other Salafist factions such as Harakat Ahrar al-Sham al-Islamiyah. The JN’s ability to provide security and basic needs to Syrian civilians, plus helping to reopen shops and restart bus services, created trust among the civilians even if the people are not naturally disposed to its ideology.
Nevertheless, an announcement for a full Islamic State in Syria could backfire on ISIS. Many civilians are showing their disapproval of the group’s imposition of strict Islamist beliefs in a number of cities by banning alcohol, forcing women to wear the niqab (full veil), and not allowing men to interact with women in the streets. Syrians might view the announcement of an Islamic State as an outside imposition of jihadist imperialism within Syria.
Asharq Al-Awsat also reports that the EU foreign ministers are expected to discuss the arming of Syrian rebels in a meeting in Brussels on July 22. But, according to a diplomatic source, “Even if the arms reach the opposition by August, it will not change anything regarding the situation on the ground.”
In the meantime, the Syrian opposition has announced plans to name a president for the interim government to replace Ghassan Hitto, who resigned last March. The new president will be announced after Ramadan.