Jabhat al-Nusra responds

April 10, 2013 - Today, Jabhat al-Nusra (JN) responded to yesterday's declaration of Al-Qaeda in Iraq (AQI) according to which they were in fact a union and shared the common name of Islamic State in Iraq and reader Syria (ISIGS). The 7 min Audio is by al-Jawlani, a known JN leader. There is little reason to suspect it is not authentic: The download links were supplied by JN's twitter account, Jihadists on their websites take it to be true.

The audio is interesting, but also somewhat confusing.

Here are a few points and a few thoughts on what they could mean.

1.- Jawlani says JN leadership only learned about AQI statement from the media. He refers to it as "if it is authentic..." - This clearly indicates there was little in the way of synchronizing the declaration. Jawlani can be understood as being not too happy about the process.

2.- Jawlani does, however, explicitly swear (literally: "repeat") allegiance (bai'a) to Ayman al-Zawahiri. He does it in the name of all JN members. - This means that, despite of whatever differences there may remain between AQI nd JN leaderships, JN does consider itself part of th AQ universe.

3.- Jawlani does, however, NOT embrace the common name of ISIGS. He also maintains that "nothing will change" in JN and that "JN will stay as you have gotten to know it". - I take this to show that Jawlani fears that the AQ-Connection may cost JN sympathies in Syria (re-visit @azelin's piece from yesterday for the dynamic involved here!)

4.- Jawlani's talks a little about the history of JN. He describes it as a "project" put before AQI's al-Baghdadi in Iraq. Al-Baghdadi approved of it, Jawlani says. He also says there is a "long history" they share. - So there definitely is a strong tie between JN and AQI.

However, there seem to remain certain differences in the interpretation of the exact nature of their relationship. Are they one, as al-Baghdadi suggested yesterday? Or are they two? Or one and and a half? Does Jawlani think that al-Baghdadi's statement was premature? Today's statement didn't make this any clearer.

So, there is a lot to interpret, discuss and debate for all of us. I am curious about your input!

Cheers, Y

PS: I mistakenly twittered at a very early moment in time that Jawlani did in fact confirm the existence of ISIGS. I corrected that later. I would like to repeat this correction here. He did not explicitly embrace that term and make it his own. My bad. It was based on a misunderstanding of the original Arabic. 


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