Thursday, July 28, 2016

Al-Nusra rebrands, cut ties with core al-Qaeda.

Al-Nusra fighters. Reuters. 

Al-Nusra Front has rebranded and cut all ties with al-Qaeda. Reuters. The powerful terrorist army was long al-Qaeda's affiliate in the Syrian Civil War. Al-Nusra has been designated a terrorist group by the United States. Al-Nusra made the move in order to avoid airstrikes from both the Untied States and Russia. Al-Nusra is now going to be called Jabhat Fatah al-Sham. They have also gotten a new white flag to replace the black flag associated with al-Qaeda and ISIS. The break with al-Qaeda was approved by al-Qaeda's leadership. So far Russia and the United States have not announced any changes in the treatment of al-Nusra. 

My Comment:
This rebranding is pretty pathetic if I am being honest. Nobody is going to think that al-Nusra isn't a brutal terrorist organization just because they changed their name to Jabhat Fatah al-Sham. It's not going to stop the airstrikes against them. It's not going to change the facts on the ground. And it is not going to differentiate al-Nusra from ISIS. 

After all, ISIS spun itself off from al-Nusra. They have largely the same beliefs. The only main difference between ISIS and al-Nusra is al-Nusra can make allies, while ISIS largely fails at that. Al-Nusra has shown time and time again that they are able to work with other rebels, Jihadist or otherwise, to the point that they largely control most other rebel groups in the areas they operate. 

Will this change anything? Not really. Al-Nursa was never a typical terrorist group. Though they have conducted multiple terrorist attacks in Syria they never really expanded outside of the country. Al-Nusra, though a terrorist group, never conducted attacks outside of Syria and did not strike western targets like ISIS did. 

Does that mean they shouldn't face airstrikes? Of course not! Their ideology is largely indistinguishable from ISIS. They officially hate anyone that isn't a Sunni Muslim and even Sunni Muslims get killed if they aren't sufficiently supportive. If al-Nusra were to win in Syria it would be just as bad as if ISIS wins. They would eventually export terror. The only reason they don't do it now is because it's bad publicity.  

The good thing is that anyone that isn't Bashar al-Assad is losing right now and losing hard. Aleppo is about to fall since the city has been surrounded and cut off by government forces. Once it does fall then the rebels are broken. It won't be the end of the war by any means but it will finally be the end of any opposition group that is ostensibly acceptable to the United States.

Of course I think the so called rebel groups in Syria lost any claim to credibility a long time ago. They were losing against Assad so they hooked up with groups like al-Nusra and other Jihadists. This ensured their survival but they damned themselves for doing it. Making a deal with the devil should have consequences and that's what these rebel groups did. Al-Nusra changing it's name doesn't change that.

I wonder if the soldiers of al-Nusra will accept this change? There is a possibility that the group could split because of this announcement. Al-Nusra has split before, ending up with ISIS as a result, but it's possible that it could happen again. I also think it is possible that some fighters could leave the group for ISIS, but given the bad blood between the two groups, I don't see many taking that path. 

Either way, I doubt that al-Nusra will survive much longer, even if they are called Jabhat Fatah al-Sham now. The situation in Syria is just unsustainable for them. Once the secular rebel groups are destroyed, and trust me, that is what is happening, the Jihadist groups in Syria will be attacked much harder then they are now. And unlike ISIS, al-Nusra has nowhere to retreat to after their respective Syrian states fall. Unlike ISIS, I don't see al-Nusra returning after they have been defeated. 

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