by Eric Zeusse
On March 7th, Al Qaeda’s now largest branch, which is its Syrian organization that used to be called Al Nusra, praised Turkey’s President Tayyip Erdogan because his Government stands up for Al Qaeda, and for other jihadist organizations which are trying to overthrow Syria’s secular Government, which is led by Bashar al-Assad. Al Qaeda in Syria now calls itself Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham, and their announcement basically reaffirms their continuing 9-year war against Syria’s Government (which war has been armed and funded mainly by the U.S. and the Saud family), and it especially damns Russia for assisting that secular Government’s efforts to destroy Al Qaeda and all other jihadist groups in Syria, which fight to eliminate all secular government and to replace it with God’s government. Before this group was called Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham, it called itself al-Nusra, but it is simply Al Qaeda in Syria, and it was the backbone of America’s effort to overthrow Syria’s secular Government and replace it with one that would be selected by the Saud family.
The Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham announcement is titled “The Moscow Agreement: A New Mirage” and it is signed by a pro-jihadist scholar, Aymenn Jawad Al-Tamimi. However, the CIA-edited and written Wikipedia’s article on him includes a section titled “Criticism” that quotes CIA assets such as the Bellingcat website as having ceased to endorse him because “his analysis was becoming more and more just pushing that narrative of the groups [ISIS] themselves.” That section of the Wikipedia article closes with “In response he has said, ‘I think there’s something to be said that I did try to ingratiate myself in these circles to get information, I agree that that was unethical.’ He has also defended himself in an article posted on his blog.” He routinely does sign articles that he publishes in English but that were originally in Arabic or some other language and not actually written by himself, and therefore the article in this case is almost certainly of that type: one that he had received from a jihadist organization and merely translated into English. (In that case, he would have been more honest to have said “posted and translated by Aymenn Jawad Al-Tamimi.”) The document’s authenticity will probably be challenged like virtually all such documents are, but Al-Tamimi’s reputation as a scholar of jihadism would be on the line if Al Qaeda’s leader Ayman al-Zawahiri were to disown it as not expressing Al Qaeda’s views. The document has been online for more than 24 hours, and no one has come forth to deny its authenticity. Furthermore, there is a statement by al-Tamimi in his introduction to the Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham statement, “Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham has issued its own statement on the new Turkey-Russia agreement, which I translate in full for this post. In sum:” and “Below is the full statement with translation.” Consequently, the alleged Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham statement should be accepted as being authentic unless and until there is an official Al Qaeda denial of it.
Tamimi’s article is titled “Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham Statement on Ankara-Moscow Agreement”, and it concerns the agreement that Turkey’s leader Tayyip Erdogan reached with Russia’s leader Vladimir Putin in Moscow on March 5th regarding Syria’s most-jihadist province, Idlib, which Erdogan wants to seize for Turkey, and where his forces in Idlib have been protecting Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham. Russia, Syria, and Iran, have been opposing Turkey’s attempts to do this. (The U.S. and its allies have supported Turkey against Syria and its supporters, but appear unwilling to provide military backing to Turkey for this effort to actually seize Syria’s Idlib Province.)
After Tamimi’s introduction comes the Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham statement itself. It praises:
the course of ten continual years of the blessed Syrian revolution and three-hundred days of fierce battles in defence of the capital of the revolution and its civilization in the liberated north, supported by its mujahideen hero sons, and their civil and political administration with a slogan written in blood: death and not humiliation, for there is no return or compromising on the aims of the blessed revolution.
The jihad and resistance are a legitimate path for the peoples whose abode has been usurped, and freedom taken captive, and sons bound behind bars, so let them defend themselves and their land by force and arms and patience and insistence and in that the rights are regained, and the fate of the lands is that they should return to their people however long the night of the oppressors lasts and the occupier through its grip takes root over the hearts of the defenceless peoples.
It condemns “the criminal gang in Damascus, supported by Russia and Iran.”
It praises Turkey: “We thank the Turkish government for clearly standing with and supporting the Syrian revolution and participating with it in defending the civilians and protecting them in the recent battle.”
It does not mention the United States nor any other NATO nation than Turkey. Though it is clear against Russia and against countries that cooperate with Russia, including Shiite Iran, it is not critical against the U.S. Government, nor against any U.S.-allied government. It is consistent with the policy of the Saud family who own Saudi Arabia, and who agreed with the jihadist Sunni cleric Mohammed bin Wahhab, in 1744, to do war against any non-believers, including against any Shiites, until the entire world become followers of Wahhab and of his interpretation of the Quran.
Turkey is led by a fellow-Sunni, Tayyip Erdogan, all of whose schooling took place in schools that taught a Sunni interpretation of the Quran. Basically, Syria’s Al Qaeda, in this document (whose main protector used to be the U.S. Government), is praising Erdogan for his effort to conquer Bashar al-Assad and to seize for Turkey Syria’s most pro-jihadist province, Idlib, where Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham is headquartered. Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham praises Turkey, for trying to protect them.