Al-Qaida leader Ayman al-Zawahiri on Friday called for the unification of the two main jihadist armies fighting the Bashar al-Assad regime in Syria, both organized under the Al Qaeda brand name.
In a 16-minute video recording al-Zawahiri has just released, the Egyptian physician, Islamic theologian and Ossama bin Laden’s second in command who took over after his demise, is calling on his combatants to overcome considerations of personal allegiance to this or that leader or organization, and unite towards the goal of erecting an Islamic state in Syria.
Al-Qaeda affiliated organizations and Sunni sympathizers have been fighting government forces in Syria since 2011. The two largest Al Qaeda affiliates there are the Al-Nusra Front and the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, both of which have recruited many foreign Mujahideen to train and fight. Al-Qaeda, a mainly Sunni network of organizations, has been the natural foe of the Shia backed Alawite regime. Al Qaeda views Shia Islam as heresy.
Al-Zawahiri has also said that moderate Islamists in Egypt and Tunisia bore responsibility for their Muslim Brothers’ parties’ recent defeats, saying they are too conciliatory.
The Al Qaeda leader openly called for violent confrontations between his Egyptian followers and the government, according to AFP.
He called on Egyptian Muslims to “rid Egypt of this criminal gang that jumped on power with iron and fire and took advantage of the concessions of some factions in their drooling behind the mirage of the delusional reconciliation.”
Tunisia, where the Muslim Ennahda government has just reached a compromise with the secular opposition over new elections, is yet another “tragedy” for Islam, according to Al-Zawahiri.