Thoughts on al-Nusra Disavowing al-Qaeda
al-Nusra leader Jolani is no longer afraid to reveal his face

Finally, after eighteen months of indecision, Abu Mohammed Joulani, the leader of Syria’s al-Nusra Front, appeared on Al-Jazeera television to announce that his organisation is breaking all ties with al-Qaeda and all mutual relationships. He went even further, declaring that he is to change the name of his group to Fatah al-Sham thus completely dropping all reference to al-Nusra [Victory].

Joulani was looking young and handsome, sporting the white turban and military camouflage we once associated with Sheikh Osama bin Laden, leader of Al-Qaeda before his assassination by an American commando unit in May 2011 in the Pakistani city of Abbottabad.

This is in contrast to his desire to conceal his face when a colleague visited him in order to film an interview with him about a year ago.

Al-Nusra started to prepare its disengagement from al-Qaeda months ago, sending delegates to every al-Nusra stronghold including Aleppo and Idleb who explained that a formal declaration would come soon and that the group was under pressure, especially from Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Turkey, to renounce its allegiance to Al-Qaeda.

The timing of this step is relevant for the following reasons:

First: it coincides with the fall of Eastern Aleppo and the Bani Zeid neighborhood – which were the stronghold of the armed factions – and the severing of the Castello road by the Syrian army, knowing that this road represents the only supply line to the armed factions.

Second: The two main powers, i.e. Russia and America, reached an agreement to liquidate both the Islamic State and Al-Nusra during the last Syrian peace conference in Geneva. Al-Nusra has been offered an escape route from the coming bombardments if it renounces al-Qaeda.

Third: the allies of the Syrian armed opposition, mainly in the Gulf, have lately been less interested in their activities, while Turkey is busy dealing with the repercussions of the failed military coup and is also seeking to improve its relations with Russia, a key ally of the Syrian regime.

Fourth: Civilians in Idleb and Aleppo have been putting pressure on Al-Nusra to break its connection with al-Qaeda since this would put a stop to Russian and American air raids.

Fifth: Turkey has completely closed its border with Syria and shoots those who try to escape from the civil war; dozens have now died this way.

In the light of this surprising development, the obvious question concerns the future of al-Nusra and how the other opposition factions and major powers involved in the Syrian conflict will react. How will it affect the map of the opposition overall?

It is difficult for us to try and figure out the unknown. However, we can speculate on some of the developments:
First: A schism is likely to happen within An-Nusra front both at the level of the leaders and the fighters with large numbers of the more radical elements switching allegiance to Islamic State.

Second: Pressure will be exerted on the re-named group to join forces either with the ‘moderate’ Islamic opposition forces or the Free Syrian Army and declare war on the Islamic State (IS). IS is considered a terrorist organisation by the US, Russia, France, UK etc and the re-branded al-Nusra group may even find itself, paradoxically, fighting alongside the Syrian regime in battle against IS.

Third: the flow of financial aid from the Gulf States, especially Saudi Arabia and Qatar, will resume. The revised al-Nusra group – now Fatah al-Sham – will be invited to join the Saudi initiative, the Supreme Council for Negotiations, based in Riyadh, and go to the next round of Geneva negotiations under its umbrella.


Golani has embarked on a major and dangerous adventure. There are no reassurances or guarantees that the raids will stop or that the Americans and Russians will let go… And even if such guarantees are offered, will they be honoured…?


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7 تعليقات

  1. terrorism on demand for the highest bidder. ما شاء الله.

  2. . عمر فهمي
    Actually this is going on for last 1400 years. First their name was Kharjite. Then Ahle-Hadith- then Wahhabi then Salafi. No difference. Sunni Muslims should soul search and remove Wahhabi cancer from them.

  3. التحالف الامريكي القاعدي في سوريا، يجعلنا نلقي نظرة ثانية على احدات ١١ سمتمبر ٢٠٠١، اذا هم متحالفين الان وكانوا متحالفين ايام الاتحاد السوفياتي. هل فكوا التحالف في ٢٠٠١؟

  4. Alnusra is terrorists … Alnusra is terrorists they killed Syrian people by Mortar during 5 years , how dare USA recently to change facts and her mind after UN & world put them as terrorists …they will become ISIS within seconds , they are same mentality so West must be very careful not to support them . USA / West Regimes must not think at all to divide Syria such as Manbij or Raqqa or Deraa , all are Syria united legal state and people will not permit that nonsense

  5. USA regime must not interfere in Aleppo – Syria and protect Alnusra terrorists by asking Arab Syrian Army , who is supported by all Syrian people 27 million , to stop fighting terrorists alnusra which is very strange & not logic !!!!
    there is a big difference between Russia , Iran and USA / Erdogan regime in Syria . Russia , Iran are coming to Syria by Syrian legal state approval while USA penetrating from secret back door in Syria without legal Syrian consent just by dealing with terrorists gangs alnusra …new Syrian army etc which are not legal . so what USA & others doing in albukamal Hamdan airport & Manbij , this is against law although pretending they fight ISIS but not in this plot way , they must coordinate with Syrian state , this is the legal true way and should not go other way !!!!! ,they are not welcomed they should go out back . this is Syrian independent state by international law . terrorists surely will be crushed shortly by Syrian internal national resistance.

  6. Kerry maneuvers should not be considered from now on . he comes when Alnusra terrorists are being defeated so as to float things by saying empty cease fire ….etc while he must be asked why USA did not separate terrorists list after 9 months … why Kerry can not oblige Alnusra not to bomb thousands of Syrian civilians in the streets for 6 years , this is the point while just talking with 2 faces is not feasible . Kerry has no right at all to talk on issues belong to Arab Syrian People 27 Million . political transition process with its national red lines related to all Syrian people only not even belong to small outer opposition in KSA also Syrian constitution belongs to people only .

  7. It won’t make any difference what God foresaken name al-Nusra calls itself. This game has already been played too many times since 1979 by the Mujahideen, Taliban, Al-Qaeda, etc. These peole have the Syrian people’s blood on their hands and will be, God willing, wiped out sooner or later.

شروط التعليق:
التزام زوار "راي اليوم" بلياقات التفاعل مع المواد المنشورة ومواضيعها المطروحة، وعدم تناول الشخصيات والمقامات الدينية والدنيوية والكتّاب، بكلام جارح ونابِ ومشين، وعدم المساس بالشعوب والأعراق والإثنيات والأوطان بالسوء، وعلى ان يكون التعليق مختصرا بقدر الامكان.

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