As the American administration tries to pick its way through the minefield of foreign affairs, we are reminded that al-Nusrah Front is not the totality of the Salafist forces fighting to unseat Syria’s Bashar al-Assad. Western media keeps trumpeting their importance, and you can’t deny their impact and influence. With a force of some 7,000 and the crown of being labeled a terrorist organization by the U.S., they play an important role in the current fighting. They are not alone, of course. The insurgency holds within it many groups. Some are Salafist and some, like the Free Syrian Army coalition, claim more secular goals.
Hassan Aboud’s Ahrar al-Sham (Free Men of Syria) is a growing force of unapologetic Salafists seeking a Syria ruled by Sharia. With perhaps 20,000 fighters they are the largest such group, and they are growing. Unlike al-Nusrah, who brag of having murdered FSA officers, the Ahrar al-Sham has rejected internecine warfare. Where al-Nusrah clearly states its connections to al-Qaeda’s world conquering narrative, Ahrar al-Sham has publicly stated that it has no interests beyond the borders of Syria. They have at times fought side by side.
It is ludicrous to think that the American public want to put boots on the ground in Syria, but that is one of the options the administration is considering.
An al Himam News correspondent interviewed two people about what they ask of God. One man said, "I ask Allah the Almighty to grant relief to Muslims and victories to the Syrian revolution and jihad in the cause of Allah, and I pray to Allah the Glorified and Exalted to make the Islamic Shariah rule in the whole country." [SITE]
We think that’s a clear representation of the feeling of many, if not a majority, of Syrians. The Obama administration should allow Syria decide its own fate, and not choose who to kill based political expediency.
August 25, 2013 by Bruce Wallace, 121Contact