Jabhat al-Nusra Fractures Syrian Opposition

Due to its divisive and exclusionary brand of extremism, Syria’s Jabhat al-Nusra is fracturing the opposition and weakening foreign support for the revolution’s cause, reports Hazem Saghiya.

al-monitor Fighters from Islamist Syrian rebel group Jabhat al-Nusra take their positions on the front line during a clash with Syrian forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad in Aleppo, Dec. 24, 2012. Photo by REUTERS/Ahmed Jadallah.

Topics covered

jabhat al-nusra, syrian revolution, syrian, islamists

Jan 30, 2013

Jabhat al-Nusra has claimed responsibility for the crime of Salamiyah, among other crimes. A dividing line must be drawn between the considerations of yesterday and those of today.

The Islamist group — which has been listed by the US as a terrorist group — is fighting Bashar al-Assad's regime with great efficiency. But its fight against the revolution is even more effective: it is causing deep rifts and divisions in an already fragmented Syrian society.

Jabhat al-Nusra espouses both a puritanical Salafist dogma and a terrorist approach riddled with criminal activity. The group shouldn't be affiliated with the revolution regardless of its military activity in the fight against the regime.

Jabhat al-Nusra has nothing to do with the revolution. In fact, the Islamist group is likely to establish a crueler regime than the tyranny under Assad — who is rubbing his hands with glee while watching its actions and activities on the ground.

Those who perceive Jabhat al-Nusra as a military and technical force, and who judge it by its ability to lose or gain control of a few square meters, ought to know that the Islamist group will not lead to a victorious Syrian revolution.

Jabhat al-Nusra will open the floodgates of terrorism in Syria, preventing rejuvenation and reform. The group also weakens Western solidarity with the revolutionary forces, even as the West is the only power capable of intervening to aid the revolution.

Let us put our Arab pride and petulance aside and finally admit that there is no hope for the Syrian revolution or victory without Western intervention.

In other words, Jabhat al-Nusra is suppressing the revolution, and at the same time closing the doors on forces that could support the revolution and bring it to power.

Add to this that minorities such as the Alawites, Kurds, Christians, Druze and Ismailis have turned their backs on this revolution.

Repudiating Jabhat al-Nusra and its affiliates amounts to preparing for the future of Syria — a tomorrow where there is no room for any sort of tyranny, be it Baathist or Salafist. Moreover, morale is high among the people who can now brag about having stood against the two Baathist groups: both the national military and religious terrorists. Needless to say, such repudiation could heal the rifts with the religious and ethnic minorities of Syrian society and with Sunni civil sectors that Jabhat al-Nusra and similar organizations have ostracized.

Jabhat al-Nusra is a terrorist organization, even if the United States said so!

We are sick of repeating self-righteous talk about the role of the regime in producing groups like Jabhat al-Nusra, and about the major contribution of the regime — through its violence and bloodshed — in making the opposition religious. We have heard enough talk about the regime’s arrest and killing of civilian cadres in an attempt to disperse them and leave the arena to Islamists. This sort of discourse only serves as a justification. Progress toward a different rhetorical and behavioral style is what is really needed — whether about Jabhat al-Nusra or about building military and political institutions capable of unifying the revolution.

Why don't those institutions take the initiative and suggest to Western powers that they provide military support in return for getting rid of Jabhat al-Nusra and the like — thus saving Syria from Jabhat al-Nusra before they have to save the world from Jabhat al-Nusra?

Otherwise, as the revolution is going through one of its darkest stages, victory will be unrewarding and defeat will be doubly felt.

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