ISIS and Jabhat al-Nusra. It has been noted that according to reports, “The Islamic Front does not include al-Qaeda affiliates like the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS) and the al-Nusra Front, but its charter welcomes foreign fighters, as “brothers who supported us in jihad”, suggesting it is willing to co-operate with them” (BBC, 2013a). The Islamic State The Islamist State is a jihadist group that controls areas within Eastern Syrian. This group is led by Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. According to early 2016 reports, ISIS fighter numbers have fallen to an estimated 19,000 to 25,000 members. This is a decline from earlier figures ranging between 20,000 to 31,500 ( Sciutto, Starr, & Liptak, 2016 ). Jabhat al-Nusra/Al-Nusra Front/Jabhat Fath al Sham (Fateh al-Sham) Jabhat al-Nusra/Al-Nusra Front, or The Front for the Defence of the Syrian People, is another violent jihadist organization in Syria, with analysts saying they have anywhere from 5000-7000 fighters. This group has been active in fighting against the al-Assad government for years. While they more officially formed in 2012, it is believed that they carried out many suicide attacks in 2011 ( BBC, 2013 b ). Al-Nusra is believed to be receiving funding from Qatari sources, and also possibly from Turkey ( Yahoo, 2016 ) (there have been reports that the Turkish government was supporting al-Nusra in their fight against the Kurdish Popular Protection Units). The leader of the Al-Nusra Front is an individual by the name of Abu Mohammed al-Jawani. The Al-Nusra Front is labelled a terror organization by the United States. This group differs from the Islamic State in that they do have separate leaderships. It is for this reason that the United States and others have questioned whether to supply weapons to rebels, even if they are not directly going to al-Nusra (BBC, 2013b). According to a recent report from the United States, the belief is that while ISIS is a concern for US security, the bigger concern is from Jabhat al-Nusra. The US forces were “ordered to remove the patches” ( Martinez, 2016 ). But we see the United States is willing to provide direct support to the Kurdish forces in their fight against ISIS. The United States government has not shied away from this fact. For example, on August 19th, 2016, it was reported that “The U.S. scrambled jets to protect coalition forces who were assisting Kurdish [YPG] forces in al- Hasakah, Syria, after they came under attack by Syrian warplanes, the Pentagon confirmed” ( Hernandez, 2016 ).
February 2016 Peace Talks The United States and Russia (along with some other members of the international community) have attempted to establish peace talks within Syria, primarily between the government forces and the anti-government FSA forces. As of now (February 25th, 2016), the hope by many is that a cease fire between these two groups will take place, and then talks will be established to discuss the end of the Syrian conflict, and the future of Syria. While there were attempts at peace talks earlier in the month, UN Syrian special envoy Staffan “De Mistura was forced to abandon
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- Spring '17
- ibrahim farat