For Al Qaeda in Syria, Success Has Its Downside

Mar 9, 2017 | 10:41 GMT

Members of Jabhat al-Nusra, an al Qaeda affiliate formerly known as Jabhat Fatah al-Sham, gather to hear a speech just south of Aleppo on Aug. 6.
In July 2016, Jabhat al-Nusra changed its name to Jabhat Fatah al-Sham in an attempt to hide its ties to al Qaeda. The group has since adopted yet another name, but its prominence among Syria's rebel factions has foiled its efforts to lie low.


Forecast Bullets

  • Though al Qaeda in Syria has emerged as the most effective rebel faction in Syria's civil war, it will have trouble drawing new allies to its side as other rebel groups and their foreign backers grow wary of its expanding influence.  
  • Al Qaeda in Syria's efforts to keep a low profile will become even more difficult now that the group has taken on a central role in the fight.
  • Opposition to the group — from the rebel camp, the loyalists, and foreign allies on both sides — will continue to mount.

Al Qaeda is making steady gains in Syria. From its beginnings as a shadowy insurgent group to its evolution as a powerful military force in the civil war, the group's Syrian outfit has slowly but surely increased its influence in the country. And its patience is paying off. In January, al Qaeda's affiliate in northern Syria, Jabhat Fatah al-Sham (formerly known as Jabhat al-Nusra) merged with several other rebel groups in the area to become Hayat Tahrir al-Sham. Today, al Qaeda is eclipsing the Islamic State as the most dangerous extremist organization in the region. But its success may well be its undoing. ...

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