"And I have found both freedom and safety in my madness, the freedom of loneliness and the safety from being understood, for those who understand us enslave something in us. But let me not be too proud of my safety. Even a Thief in a jail is safe from another thief. "

Khalil Gibran (How I Became a Madman)

Lübnan Marunîleri / Yasin Atlıoğlu


Tuesday, April 30, 2019

In Syria, Tensions Persist between Hayat Tahrir al-Sham and al-Qaeda Loyalists- Aymenn Jawad Al-Tamimi

In early February 2019, the Syrian insurgent group Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), which evolved out of Syria's al-Qaeda affiliate Jabhat al-Nusra, and al-Qaeda loyalists represented in the group Hurras al-Din came to an agreement to put aside a dispute over ownership of weapons.
The two sides also agreed to cease attacks on each other in the media, as there have been multiple disagreements between the two sides that have played out on the internet. For instance, the al-Qaeda loyalists argue that HTS' breaking ties with al-Qaeda was illegitimate and constituted disobedience to al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri. They also argue that HTS' strategies for the future survival of the insurgency and cause of jihad in Syria are mistaken.
Glossing over these disputes, the February agreement highlighted supposedly common ideological ground by affirming that the two sides are 'mujahid groups on the manhaj striving to establish the religion through dawa and jihad'.
More recently, HTS has reportedly attempted to conciliate the al-Qaeda loyalists on the ground in north-west Syria. Indeed, HTS allegedly offered payments of $100 for each slain enemy fighter to Hurras al-Din and Ansar al-Tawheed (the latter the successor group for the al-Qaeda-loyalist elements of Jund al-Aqsa, which fractured because of Islamic State sympathizers in its ranks) for operations conducted in Aleppo and Hama provinces. In total, these payments purportedly amounted to $400 for Hurras al-Din and $3,000 for Ansar al-Tawheed.
A member of HTS's 'Red Bands' unit affirmed the reports of these payments, describing them as a "step to conciliate the hearts. And God willing there will be unity with time." He elaborated: "The aim is to bring together all the fighters to repel the aggressor, especially in the stage that we are in." However, the general military official for Ansar al-Tawheed deniedthat any payments were made to the group by HTS for a recent raid conducted in northern Hama.
Even if these supposed HTS payments are true, more partisan pro-al-Qaeda types are not convinced by apparent HTS gestures of conciliation, reflecting the fact that the February agreement did not resolve the more fundamental disputes between HTS and the al-Qaeda loyalists. The foremost case in point is the Telegram channel Shibl al-Aqeeda. Commentingon the initial reports of the payments, Shibl al-Aqeeda published the following on the assumption they were true (the channel subsequently circulated the denial by the Ansar al-Tawheed official):
"Let us be fair and start out with the words of the Prophet: "Whoso does not thank the people, does not thank God." So may God reward best the one who undertook this matter. But let us also be honest with ourselves and all, because there are many question marks about this deed, and what is the secret in the timing of this publicizing and broadcasting!