Nusra, Islamic Front dispute 'code of honor' among rebel factions

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A large number of rebel groups in Syria signed a code of honor, raising concerns among Jabhat al-Nusra about potential hidden objectives.

A group of the largest armed factions and fronts in Syria has signed a revolutionary code of honor designed to unite efforts to stand up to the dangers of the current phase.

The hidden objectives of the code of honor have raised the concerns of leaders of Jabhat al-Nusra, who rushed to reject the code and described it as weak and submissive. This raises questions over the future of ties between Jabhat al-Nusra and the Islamic Front, amid their increasingly conflicting stances over a number of issues.

Two days ago, the Islamic Front, Ajnad al-Sham Islamic Union, the Army of Mujahedeen, Al-Sham Legion, and the Furqan Battalion signed the so-called revolutionary code of honor of the warring brigades, while other factions, most notably Jabhat Thawar Suria, Jabhat al-Nusra and the Authenticity and Development Front, abstained.

The code of honor states that “the political objective of the Syrian revolution is to topple the regime, its icons and pillars,” and pointed out that “the militarily target of the revolution is the Syrian regime and its supporters,” while emphasizing that “the military action also targets whoever assaults and condemns our people as infidels, such as the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS).”

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Although the code of honor seems to target both the Syrian regime and ISIS, the available data actually indicates that its objective is totally different. The signatories do not have any disagreement over fighting the regime, and they are all involved in the fight against ISIS. This objective is therefore a foregone conclusion and does not need a unifying code to be confirmed. For this reason, the attention is focused on other articles that are hidden in the code of honor and considered an indicator of its genuine objectives.

Article 6 stipulates, “Our revolutionary forces rely on the Syrian members in their military action,” and Article 7 says, “The objective of the Syrian people is to build a state based on justice and freedom.”

This raises questions about the signatories’ stance toward the phenomenon of “foreign fighters” in Syria, which has become an obsession haunting world governments. Has the phase of “comrades in the fighting” abandoning each other started? Will the war against ISIS consist of a cover for the declaration of war on any “foreign fighter,” regardless of the faction he is affiliated with?

Although Jamal Maarouf, the commander of Jabhat Thuwar Suria, did not sign the code of honor, he said in a statement a few days ago that he “is against any fighter coming from abroad.” This statement might be an indicator of a “foreign recommendation” about the necessity to fight those [foreign fighters] before the dangers they pose spread to their countries of origin.

Maarouf has become one of the warlords most favored by the West. He is closely linked to the Western intelligence spheres as he is seen as moderate. In fact, in the past few weeks, Washington provided him with a deal to receive TOW anti-tank missiles.

In addition to the aforementioned, it is important to raise the question about why the Islamic Front has reneged on the goal to establish an Islamic state, which was mentioned in its founding charter, and was content with the expression of the “state of justice and freedom,” without even hinting to governance according to Islamic Sharia.

These subtle hints in the articles 6 and 7 have immediately raised concerns, especially from the part of Jabhat al-Nusra. The latter took this charter as a targeting of its militants. This is why it did not hesitate to announce its refusal of this code through stances issued by some of its leaders. The most powerful of these responses was issued by Jabhat al-Nusra Mufti in Daraa Sami al-Uraidhi, who described the code as “weak and submissive.”

Uraidhi considered that “jihad is currently going through a phase of decay and scrutiny,” announcing that he disowns any “call, or charter, or group that does not clearly and publicly demand the governance of Sharia law.” Talking about the situation of Jabhat al-Nusra at this stage, he said, “The righteous people are aliens among the submissive people who make concessions, and show exaggeration and excessiveness.”

An indirect dispute between Uraidhi and Hassan Abboud, the head of the Islamic Front’s political committee, took place on Twitter. Abboud defended the code, saying, “We will walk our path, and will not look back at those who want to drag us to mountains, forests, and the wilderness of [valleys] to fight the jihad of elites.”

“Life in mountains and caves under Sharia is better than a life in palaces under something else. We have experienced this with the Taliban,” Uraidhi replied.

It's important to note that the Ahrar ash-Sham movement, which is controlled by the Islamic Front, does not mind cooperating with regional and international intelligence agencies to reach its goals. The signed code of honor stipulates on the signees’ awareness of “the regional and international dimension of the Syrian crisis,” announcing that it welcomes “the meeting of, and the cooperation with, regional and international parties in a way that serves the Syrian revolution.” The bylaws of Ahrar ash-Sham, however, were a lot clearer in this context, stipulating on “organizing the work with the intelligence of neighboring countries according to the instructions of the movement’s leader.”

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Found in: syrian crisis, syria, opposition, jabhat al-nusra, daraa, civil war
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