“Syria’s Salafi Insurgents: The Rise of the Syrian Islamic Front” by Aron Lund

sif

The Swedish Institute of International Affairs just published a 51-page report I’ve written about the Syrian Islamic Front (SIF), one of the main salafi alliances fighting in Syria. The SIF is an interesting group – not quite as radical as Syria’s de facto al-Qaida affiliate, Jabhat al-Nosra, but still very clearly part of the hardline religious camp. Its creation in December 2012 further strengthens the Islamist bloc, on the expense of more moderate revolutionary factions, but depending on how this plays out, it could also represent something of a challenge to Jabhat al-Nosra.

I’m posting some segments from the introduction below, followed by a a link to the full report.   — Aron Lund

Syria’s Salafi Insurgents: the Rise of the Syrian Islamic Front

As the Syrian revolution descends further into sectarian civil war, radical Islamist groups gain in influence. The world’s attention has so far been focused on Jabhat al-Nosra, a salafi-jihadi organization with links to the Iraqi wing of al-Qaida, but there are several other hardline Islamist groups in Syria.

Unlike the salafi-jihadi radicals, many Syrian Islamist groups are primarily interested in establishing an Islamic state in Syria – not in a global holy war. They lack the strong ideological and personal links that bind Jabhat al-Nosra to the international salafi-jihadi community and al-Qaida, and they are in some ways more moderate in their political outlook. Some are intellectually disciplined salafis, but others have opportunistically adopted elements of the salafi discourse, without much ideological sophistication. Fighters are drawn to the black-and-white moral scheme and Sunni-sectarian chauvinism of contemporary salafism, and, not least, to the possibility of financial support from Islamic charities in the Persian Gulf.

In December 2012, eleven of Syria’s Islamist rebel factions gathered to form the Syrian Islamic Front (SIF), a salafi coalition that has since emerged as one of Syria’s most important insurgent groups. The SIF presents its creation a step towards the complete unification of Syria’s Islamic movement, but it may also have been a way for its dominant faction, Ahrar al-Sham, to gather ideological allies under its own wings. Ahrar al-Sham and the SIF have now emerged as a wedge, or a link, between two rival flanks of the Islamist movement in Syria: the soft-Islamist rebel mainstream, which is backed by the West, and the salafi-jihadi radicals of Jabhat al-Nosra, which have been designated a terrorist movement by the USA.

Part one of this paper discusses the rise of salafism in Syria during the current conflict, and the role of religious alliances in the disorganized insurgency. Part two focuses on the SIF and its emergence as a salafi ”third way” between Jabhat al-Nosra and more moderate Islamist groups. The third and final part takes a brief look at each of the eleven founding factions of the SIF.

You can download the full report here.

Comments (15)


1. revenire said:

Aron the .pdf of the report is posted here: http://www.ui.se/eng/upl/files/86861.pdf

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March 19th, 2013, 9:57 am

 

2. Jasmine said:

Very sad,this is to confirm that the Christians in Syria, who are the real Syrians have lost their country for good .

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March 19th, 2013, 10:01 am

 

3. Visitor said:

Yet, another worthless piece of junk by a wannabe Lund thrown at us by Dr. Landis!!

Listen Lund, All Syrians are Salfists supporters of Nusra in defiance of your ridiculous artificial classifications of Syrians into so-called moderates and so-called extremists. What is it to you anyway? why don’t you just buzz off to some lulu land and become a real reporter? Syria is none of your business or the business of the Swedish Institute for that matter.

On the other hand, the first statement made by Hitto is positive, and if he continues in the same vein he may accomplish something unlike the hesitant and weakling Kahtib before him. Hitto announced that there will be no negotiations with the criminal regime. That is very good and he should make good on it. But, at the same time this NC and ‘government-in-exile’ must understand in no uncertain that they do not represent the Syrains. They will only be considered as interim care-taker governing body until Syria is liberated. They should dissolve themselves immediately after liberation and call for general elections.

Syrians still consider the FSA led by Nusra and its associates as their only national army and will never compromise on these holy warriors who delivered and continue to deliver resounding victories to the revolution.

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March 19th, 2013, 10:13 am

 

4. revenire said:

Visitor let me tell you something “brother” before your kind take over Syria the entire nation will be nothing but blown up buildings and dead people.

Ozymandias

I met a traveller from an antique land
Who said: Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desart. Near them, on the sand,
Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown,
And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them and the heart that fed:
And on the pedestal these words appear:
“My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!”
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away

- Percy Bysshe Shelley

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March 19th, 2013, 10:37 am

 

5. AIG said:

The dumb and dumber parade continues. Right after promising to “burn” Israel, the regime supporters deftly proceed to actually burn Syria and are even proud to say they are doing it! I have never seen such stupidity.

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March 19th, 2013, 10:48 am

 

6. Dolly Buster said:

627. zoo said:

I expect Russia to call for an emergency meeting of the UNSC to discuss the kind of weapons France and UK plan to want to give to the rebels

 
Probably, but no one cares about Russia. You saw what Merkel just did to them. Took $3 billion from Russian accounts in Cyprus.

This is karma for Russians arming the butcher of Syria.

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March 19th, 2013, 10:54 am

 

7. Hanzala said:

#3 Visitor

Agreed, this Aron guy seems to think any Muslim who fights the Assad regime is a salafist, it’s kind of funny. I asked this before, what do “salafists” groups like Nusra do differently than non “salafist” groups like Hamas or Taliban? Is it suicide bombing? Nope. Is it shariah law? Nope. SO what do these so called salafists do differently?

No Islamist group can simply make up their own interpretation of Islam, if it is not backed by Quran and Hadith and classical interpretation of the religion than it would not be accepted by Muslims.

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March 19th, 2013, 10:57 am

 

8. ghufran said:

This gives my world famous Toz more credibility:

أعلن ناطق إعلامي باسم الجيش الحر عزمه على محاكمة النائب اللبناني عقاب صقر ومجموعة من الجيش الحر ارتكبت مجزرة بحق مصلين في مدينة دمشق.
وقال أبو منذر الصالحاني في بيان نشرته مواقع ” الثورة ” بعد استهداف جامع في حي البرامكة بدمشق بقذائف أوقعت قتلى وجرحى مدنيين: (نطالب الهيئات القضائية والشرعية التابعة للجيش السوري الحر بفتح تحقيق سريع ومباشر ومحاسبة الفاعل واعتقاله وتجريده من سلاحه وفصله من المجلس العسكري).
وأضاف الصالحاني: كما وأطالب بمحاكمة عقاب صقر ولؤي المقداد مشيراً إلى أن صقر كان يزود زهران علوش بالسلاح والمال، وهو المسؤول عن تصفية القوى المدنية في الثورة في منطقة الغوطة وعن سيطرة المجرمين، وأرباب السوابق الجنائية على الثورة.
وناشد الصالحاني المجلس العسكري في دمشق وريفها (بعدم وضع هذه الأسلحة الخطيرة من مدافع هاون وراجمات صواريخ وصواريخ محلية الصنع بين أيدي هؤلاء المجرمين ومصادرتها وإعطائها لأشراف الجيش الحر المغيبين عن الشاشة لسبب واحد هو أنهم شرفاء صادقين، وتابع: إن استمر هذا القصف على دمشق سوف نحمل المجلس العسكري بمن فيه من ضباط وقادة مدنيين مسؤولية كل قطرة دم تسيل من مدني، بسبب همجية بعض قواد الكتائب وبغية تحقيق مصالح شخصية وارتباطات خارجية).
وأكد الصالحاني أن القصف هو ثالث جريمة يتأكد ارتكابها من قبل الجيش الحر، وقد قام بالتحقيق في الحادثة شخصياً وذلك (بعد تواصل مع عدد من الثوار الأشراف في الغوطة الشرقية وعلى جبهة جوبر والتواصل مع عدد من التنسيقيات وشهود العيان والمراسلين الذين كانوا متواجدين في منطقة البرامكة، والتواصل مع شباب من تجمع أحرار دمشق وريفها للتغيير السملي، ودراسة جهة ورود القذائف ومن أي زاوية ونوعها).
وقال الصالحاني: (بما أنني ناشط إعلامي مستقل وعلى تواصل مع عدد من الكتائب الثورية الشريفة وعدد من التنسيقيات، ومجموعة من المراسلين الثوريين المتنقلين في دمشق وريفها، وباسمي وباسم كل إعلامي حر يغير على النفس الإنسانية، وباسم كل عنصر شريف في الجيش الحر موجود في الغوطة من دون كهرباء أو تلفزيون أو انترنت، ولا يعلم ماذا يجري في العالم الخارجي، ندين هذا العمل الإجرامي الوحشي الذي أودى بحياة شيخ مسلم وإمام مسجد وإصابة ابنه وعدد من المصلين في مسجد عمار بن ياسر، فضلا عن إصابة عدد من المدنيين من النساء والرجال، وأضرار في الممتلكات العامة والخاصة بما فيها حرم المسجد).
there is no doubt that Syria is now a playground for thugs and terrorists, enjoy.

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March 19th, 2013, 11:03 am

 

9. Majed97 said:

Who knew there were so many Syrian-born popes? Not me!

Pope Saint Anicetus hailed from Syria.
Pope John V came from what is now Turkey (انطاكية)
Pope Sisinnius is yet another pope originally from Syria, as were Pope Constantine and Pope Gregory III.

http://abcnews.go.com/ABC_Univision/Entertainment/pope-francis-european-pope/story?id=18723314

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March 19th, 2013, 11:12 am

 

10. Dolly Buster said:

Putin arrests protesters in Moscow:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RzCv_szm0Bc

These are the values that Iran & Russia stand for. Oppression.

Our only hope is the Free Syrian Army and Jabat al Nusra.

Let’s clean up what’s left of SAA in a matter of days.

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March 19th, 2013, 11:26 am

 

11. Johannes de Silentio said:

9. MAJED97

“Who knew there were so many Syrian-born Popes? Not me.”

As I have said several times before, you Syrians are totally ignorant regarding your own history. You can blame Islam for that, because Islam teaches that nothing happened before its arrival.

Syria is thousands of years old and you all know nothing about the Romans, Greeks, Assyrians, Babylonians, etc, etc. You’ve never heard of these Syrian-born Popes, never heard of the great Christian saints who pre-dated the Arab invaders, never heard of the Empress Theodora. I feel sorry for you poor fucks….

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March 19th, 2013, 11:37 am

 

12. majedkhaldoun said:

Mr. Hito said
No dialogue with Assad and his thugs
All equal, and rights and duties are based on citizenship, no sectarianism Ethnic or religious.
Justice , where criminals will face justice
Unqualified Support to FSA
Thanks to KSA ,Gulf states Turkey,and USA and France and Britain, ( here no mention to Egypt).
Reminded Russia and Iran that they will be the losers.

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March 19th, 2013, 11:52 am

 

13. Tara said:

Aron Lund introduces the second episode of Aron and the bogeyman

I will quote Hanzala:

“Agreed, this Aron guy seems to think any Muslim who fights the Assad regime is a salafist, it’s kind of funny”

I am just going to say that my muslim sheikh cousin taught me a saying I can recite before going to sleep when I am afraid of a bogeyman. You should say it three times and blow on your left shoulder in between. The bogeyman will not appear in your dreams. I still use it and it works!! If Lund is interested, I can share with him.

Analyst’s failure to separate their own anxiety of the Muslim bogeyman and the Syrian revolution will only help killing more children. And I hope that one day, the sheer number of the dead in Syria burden the consciounce of all those analysts.

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March 19th, 2013, 12:31 pm

 

14. Visitor said:

Thanks Hanzala @7.

You always link the best videos.

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March 19th, 2013, 2:01 pm

 

15. Fedeltà al Fronte Islamico | Cevengur said:

[…] on December 8, 2013 by albertosavioli Più di 70 religiosi sauditi in una recente dichiarazione hanno dichiarato la loro fedeltà al Fronte Islamico (Islamic Front – IF, in arabo: Jabhat al-Islāmiyya), […]

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December 8th, 2013, 6:47 am

 

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