April 9, 2013

Jawad Aswad is an independent opposition politician who closely follows events inside Syria who says that the proposed merger between the two jihadist groups aligns with the regime’s goals to paint the opposition as terrorists. Aswad currently lives in Saudi Arabia, and spoke to Nuha Shabaan via Skype.

Q: What do you think of the record published yesterday about uniting Jabhat a-Nusra [and the Iraqi Islamic State] in the Islamic in Sham and Iraq?

A: When we say Kleenex, we often refer to the soft tissues. People often use the brand to refer to the product. This is acceptable for commercial commodities, but it’s a problem when we apply it on political and military movements. Not every jihadist group, whose members grow long beards and use black flags with God’s name on them, is necessarily Jabhat a-Nusra or al-Qaeda.

I’ve heard the statement of uniting the Islamic states in Iraq and Syria. I have noticed a few things. First, we have never heard of Abo Baker al-Hasani al-Kuraishi al-Baghdadi. Who made him a prince? His name, or nickname, is something new. Islamist princes usually use their real names. This new method is similar to that in the Vatican where the Pope chooses a historical name.

The second thing in this statement is that it looked like a Friday preachment that focuses on the individual policy maker and not shoura [the Islamic concept of consultation].

The third thing is that the prince of Jabhat a-Nusra has previously said that it has nothing to do with al-Qaeda and that it was a Syrian jihadist group. Why would Jabhat a-Nusra change its position now and provoke more states against it and terrify the Syrians by playing the sectarianism card?

The fourth thing is that this prince has hidden his face; something that hasn’t been done by Osama bin Laden, Ayman al-Zawahiri or Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. Is he better than all the jihadists who appear on television every day, risking their lives?

The fifth thing is that the damage this statement causes is way bigger than the benefits.

The sixth thing is that this statement is something the regime has been trying so hard to achieve. They have always wanted to link the Syrian armed opposition with al-Qaeda to give the Americans an excuse to move against jihadists in Syria.

This statement obviously has the fingerprints of the Syrian regime. They have always been creative in this department. This is a false statement and it’s shocking how many leaders across the world have reacted to it. They now want to condemn terror after ignoring the regime’s terrorism for two years.

What is unfortunate is that many of the Syrian rebels have given too much attention to this statement. Syria will always be the Syrian Arab Republic, a free and sovereign nation.