News / Middle East

Zawahri Intervenes in Dispute Between Syrian, Iraqi al-Qaida Wings

Al-Qaida chief Ayman al-Zawahiri, November 10, 2001.
Al-Qaida chief Ayman al-Zawahiri, November 10, 2001.
Reuters
Al-Qaida leader Ayman al-Zawahri has intervened in a dispute between the Iraqi and Syrian branches of his network, telling both to "stop arguing." Qatar-based Al Jazeera television reported.

Al-Qaida in Iraq announced in April that it had united with Syria's Nusra Front, which now spearheads the fight against President Bashar al-Assad. This upset Nusra, which affirmed its loyalty to Zawahri but said it had not been told of any merger.

Nusra leaders, aware that many Syrians had joined the Front because of its military prowess, rather than for ideological reasons, had previously sought to minimize the use of tactics such as indiscriminate attacks on civilians and Islamist crackdowns which had alienated many Iraqis from al-Qaida in Iraq during the struggle against the U.S.-led occupation after 2003.

According to a letter purportedly from Zawahri and posted on Al Jazeera's website, the al-Qaida leader annulled the merger declared by the leader of the Islamic State in Iraq, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, saying each group was separate.

"The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant is cancelled, and work continues under the name the Islamic State of Iraq," he said in the letter posted on the website on Sunday night.

"The Nusra Front for the People of the Levant is an independent branch" of al-Qaida, Zawahri said, urging both groups to "stop arguing in this dispute, and to stop the harassment among the Muslims."

He also said Baghdadi and Nusra Front leader Abu Mohammad al-Golani would continue to head their groups for a year, pending a decision by their respective consultative assemblies.

The letter's authenticity could not immediately be verified.

The Nusra Front burst into prominence early last year, when it claimed responsibility for several powerful bombings in the Syrian capital Damascus and the northern city of Aleppo.

Since then it has expanded operations nationwide, winning recruits among rebels who see it as the most effective fighting force against Assad's troops, and it has taken a leading role in capturing territory in the north, south and east of Syria.

Al-Qaida in Iraq, which suffered setbacks before U.S. troops left at the end of 2011, has bounced back with suicide bombings and coordinated attacks this year, including an ambush which killed 48 Syrian soldiers who had fled across the border.

Iraqi security officials have said since last year that the militants were again active in Iraq's western desert region next to Syria, where cross-border Sunni tribal ties are strong.

Al-Qaida's Iraqi wing and Syria's Islamist insurgents share a hatred for Assad's Alawite-based power and for Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki's Shi'ite-led government, which they see as oppressors of Sunnis in both countries.

You May Like

Egypt's Suez Canal Dreams Tempered by Continued Unrest

Seen as a potential driver of recovery, Cairo’s plan to expand waterway had been raising hopes to give country much needed economic boost More

Ebola Maternity Ward in Sierra Leone First of its Kind

Country already had one of world's highest maternal mortality rates before Ebola arrived, virus has added even more complications to health care More

Malaysia Flight 370 Disappearance Ruled Accident

Aircraft disappeared on March 8, 2014; with ruling, families of 239 passengers and crew can now seek compensation from airline More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Super Bowl Ads Compete for Eyes on TV, Webi
X
January 29, 2015 9:58 AM
Super Bowl Sunday (Feb. 1) is about more than just the NFL's American football championship and big parties to watch the game. Viewers also tune in for the world famous commercials that send Facebook and Twitter abuzz. Daniela Schrier reports on the social media rewards for America’s priciest advertising.
Video

Video Super Bowl Ads Compete for Eyes on TV, Web

Super Bowl Sunday (Feb. 1) is about more than just the NFL's American football championship and big parties to watch the game. Viewers also tune in for the world famous commercials that send Facebook and Twitter abuzz. Daniela Schrier reports on the social media rewards for America’s priciest advertising.
Video

Video Theologians Cast Doubt on Morality of Drone Strikes

In 2006, stirred by photos of U.S. soldiers mistreating Iraqi prisoners, a group of American faith leaders and academics launched the National Religious Campaign Against Torture. It played an important role in getting Congress to investigate, and the president to ban, torture. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Freedom on Decline Worldwide, Report Says

The state of global freedom declined for the ninth consecutive year in 2014, according to global watchdog Freedom House's annual report released Wednesday. VOA's William Gallo has more.
Video

Video As Ground Shifts, Obama Reviews Middle East Strategy

The death of Saudi Arabia’s king, the collapse of a U.S.-friendly government in Yemen and a problematic relationship with Israel’s leadership are presenting a new set of complications for the Obama administration and its Middle East policy. Not only is the U.S. leader dealing with adversaries in Iran, the Islamic State and al-Qaida, but he is now juggling trouble with traditional allies, as White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video MRI Seems to Help Diagnose Prostate Cancer, Preliminary Study Shows

Just as with mammography used to detect breast cancer, there's a lot of controversy about tests used to diagnose prostate cancer. Fortunately, a new study shows doctors may now have a more reliable way to diagnose prostate cancer for high risk patients. More from VOA's Carol Pearson.
Video

Video Smartphones About to Make Leap, Carry Basic Senses

Long-distance communication contains mostly sounds and pictures - for now. But scientists in Britain say they are close to creating additions for our smartphones that will make it possible to send taste, smell and even a basic touch. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video NASA Monitors Earth’s Vital Signs From Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, is wrapping up its busiest 12-month period in more than a decade, with three missions launched in 2014 and two this month, one in early January and the fifth scheduled for January 29. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, the instruments being lifted into orbit are focused on Earth’s vital life support systems and how they are responding to a warmer planet.
Video

Video Saved By a Mistake - an Auschwitz Survivor's Story

Dagmar Lieblova was 14 when she arrived at Auschwitz in December 1943, along with her entire Czech Jewish family. All of them were to die there, but she was able to leave after several months due to a bureaucratic mix-up which saved her life. Now 85, with three children and six grandchildren, she says she has a feeling of victory. This report by Ahmad Wadiei and Farin Assemi, of RFE/RL's Radio Farda is narrated by RFE’s Raymond Furlong.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid