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News Analysis: Declaration of Islamic caliphate may not pose risk to Syria

English.news.cn   2014-06-30 21:48:35

DAMASCUS, June 30 (Xinhua) -- The declaration of an Islamic caliphate by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), now simply Islamic State, would not affect Syria as it did in Iraq or the countries that have supported the radical group, analysts say.

Local analysts said ISIL's declaration of an Islamic caliphate would have no chance in Syria largely due to the lack of popular support, the Syrian army's strength, and the infighting that ISIL has been deadlocked in with other rival jihadist groups in several Syrian areas.

ISIL, an al-Qaida breakaway group, declared on Sunday to establish an Islamic caliphate in areas under its control in both Syria and Iraq. The group has further enthroned its leader, Abdullah Ibrahim Bin Awad, who goes by the nom de guerre of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, as the Muslim caliph, or the leader of all Muslims.

The announcement came after the group, one of the strongest among other hard-line groups on the regional arena, had succeeded to take control of large swathes of territories in western Iraq and eastern Syria.

Hamdi Abdullah, a Syrian political analyst, said that the caliphate declaration, though a kind of formality in Syria, would pose threat to the countries that supported this group in the first place, because its threat would not stop at the borders of Iraq or Syria, but would expand to other Islamic government-run countries in the region.

"It poses a threat to the countries that supported this organization ... to the governments of the region, because the plan of this organization is to expand to all those countries," he said, noting that the group would not succeed to stay in Syria due to the lack of popular support.

"The caliphate announcement would make ISIL lose any support it may have on ground in Syria and would deepen the crack among the rival rebel groups ... I don't think it would add to their strength on ground," he said.

Hamdi said that the Syrian people would not accept ISIL's rule because Syrians are known as moderates, and ISIL's actions in the northern province of al-Raqqa have shown what it likes to live under the strict rules that the group has imposed there.

He further remarked that ISIL's snowballing threat backs the Syrian government's declared war against terrorism, granting the administration of President Bashar al-Assad more legitimacy to keep fighting the terrorist groups.

Maher Murhej, head of the Syrian Youth Party, also agreed that the growing threat of ISIS would grant the Syrian government more legitimacy in its battle against terrorism.

"The ISIS case positively reflects on the stance of the Syrian government because now the government would have more legitimacy to keep fighting terrorism, and ISIL is the strongest terror group on ground today. So when the world say they are fighting ISIL you would have a legitimacy to fight it as well and this would ease the mission of the Syrians to get rid of the terrorists," he said.

He also expressed conviction that the declaration of an Islamic Caliphate by ISIL would pose no threat on ground in Syria.

"I don't think this situation would pose a threat on ground in Syria. Maybe in Iraq this whole thing is new to them but in Syria we have been fighting terrorism for three years and we know our enemy," he said, hailing the Syrian army's "achievements" over the past years of crisis.

Murhej also pointed out to the impact of the infighting between ISIL and other al-Qaida-linked groups, such as the Nusra Front and the so-called Islamic Front.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a London-based watchdog group, said recently that over 7,000 fighters and civilians had been killed as a result of the infighting among the rival radical rebel groups in northern and eastern Syria.

The infighting has also stretched to the eastern countryside of the capital Damascus, known as the Eastern al-Ghouta countryside, where ISIL is fighting other rebel groups to subdue them into pledging alliance to the "Islamic Caliphate."

The infighting started earlier this year between ISIL and other jihadist groups in many rebel-held areas in eastern and northern Syria on borders with Turkey and Iraq. The infighting erupted over control of strategic territories and facilities, including oil fields in the oil-rich region of Deir al-Zour, bordering Iraq.

"Now the rebel fighters are liquidating each other and I think they will get weak on ground, plus ISIL has no popular ground and even if ISIL managed to expand more in Syria, it would be a temporary expansion and the Syrian troops would eliminate them eventually," Murhej said, noting that in Iraq the situation is different because ISIL has popular support in largely Sunni areas that have been marginalized during the rule of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's government.

The al-Qaida splinter group today controls areas that stretch from Nineveh and part of al-Anbar region in western Iraq to the northern countryside of Syria's northwestern province of Aleppo, bordering Turkey.

The group's control also stretch from northern countryside of Deir al-Zour to the south of al-Hasaka province, in addition to large swathes of the eastern countryside of Deir al-Zour and the entire western countryside of that oil-rich province toward the al- Raqqa province, the main base of the group in Syria.

The group, led by al-Baghdadi who commands tens of thousands of fighters, said its goal is to establish an Islamic state in Iraq and Syria and to fight the Shiite government of Nouri al-Maliki and the administration of President Bashar al-Assad, whose top ranks are from the Alawite minority, an offshoot of Shiite Islam.

Syrian officials have accused some Gulf States, mainly Saudi Arabia, of supporting ISIL to topple the Arab Shiite-run government and to restrain thus the Iranian influence in the region.


Editor: Yamei Wang
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