Syrian War Report – July 27, 2016: Al Nusra Rebranding

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U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said on July 25 details of a “U.S. plan” for military cooperation and intelligence sharing with Russia on Syria were expected to be announced in early August. Kerry’s statement followed the meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on the sidelines of a meeting of Southeast Asian nations in Laos.

According to the plan, Russia and the U.S. will share intelligence to coordinate air strikes against the Syrian Al Qaeda branch “Jabhat Al Nusra” and prohibit the Russian and Syrian air powers from attacking the so-called “moderate rebels.”

However, the ongoing progress on the ground remains questionable. Al Nusra is the most powerful “opposition group” in Syria, excluding ISIS. According to the group’s statements, Al Nusra currently stands at 60,000 fighters, although this number is impossible to verify. The group’s units are able to conduct a classic warfare with usage of artillery, battle tanks and other equipment, including drones, as well as they conduct guerrilla warfare and terror attacks of suicide bombers.

According to intelligence information, Al Nusra has been receiving direct support from Turkey and Saudi Arabia and indirect support through the U.S. programs aimed to train “moderate rebels” in Syria. In other words, if Washington agrees to coordinate its efforts against the terrorist group with Russia, the US-backed Syrian opposition will lose its main striking power.

Entirely by accident, the very same day with Kerry’s statement, Abu Mohammad Al Golani, leader of Al Nusra, made a public statement announcing that Jabhat Al Nusra has separated from Al Qaeda, organizationally and taken a new name, Jabhat Fateh Al Sham (Sham Liberation Front).

This move signifies the start of full-scale rebranding campaign, clearly aimed to evade the effects of Russian-U.S. deal to coordinate efforts against the terrorist group. Al Nusra is aiming to depict itself as a “moderate opposition group,” adjusting to the constant pressure from Russians that had pushed Washington to accept the deal. It’s easy to expect a series of reports in the Western media that will depict Al Nusra’s rebranding as an important step on the way to better “democratic” Syria. Because, now, when the group changed its name, nobody has to doubt that it remains a terrorist organization. These reports will likely call the group “rebels” and hide the original source of “opposition fighters” from Jabhat Fateh Al Sham. Indeed, they have never avoided doing this.

It’s possible to expect that Al Nusra’s rebranding will allow the U.S. to avoid any significant actions under the long-awaited deal with Russia, claiming that there is no such entity as Jabhat Al Nusra at the battlefield. Moreover, Jabhat Fateh Al Sham units will likely further shuffle with vestiges of the so-called “moderate opposition.” Strategically, it could create a foothold for the groups’ foreign sponsors to push the terrorist group as a part of the Vienna talks and post-war Syria consensus.

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  • George Washington

    *One* SU-34 would have been more more useful than all of these “negotiations” combined.

    I hope Lavrov is flying coach and eating peanuts. He is wasting Russian resources on a dream.

  • paul

    The USA always plays a dirty game. Any agreement they make is only
    intended to undermine President Assad and weaken the Russian military
    effort. I honestly don’t know why Russia bothers negotiating with
    Kerry and the rest. In total they are just liars down to the core of
    their being. Kerry is also a murderer, having personally killed a
    Vietnamese during the USA slaughter in Vietnam. Only Russia has
    dignity in this matter , and it pains me to see them involved with
    the squalor of western politicians.

    • Also let us not forget. John Kerry is not really a Kerry, which is Irish. His father stole the traditional tribal Irish name of Kerry to go under the radar.
      He is in fact John Cohen. Here is the proof of him saying so himself:
      http://www.haaretz.com/jewish/features/when-kerry-was-kohn-the-jewish-roots-of-john-kerry.premium-1.489209
      Once you pull the string on why the USA has become expert liars, then the whole web of lies becomes to fall apart. And a very clear image of what is going on becomes self evident.
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dyqZydy1siI

      • Tom Johnson

        No, he is related to John Winthrop-a historical fact.

        • When Kerry Was Kohn: The Jewish Roots of John Kerry
          The new nominee for secretary of state only found out about his Jewish grandfather while running in the 2004 presidential election.
          read more: http://www.haaretz.com/jewish/features/when-kerry-was-kohn-the-jewish-roots-of-john-kerry.premium-1.489209
          BOSTON – Senator John Kerry, with his mother’s New England patrician pedigree and his Irish last name actually has a grandfather who was born a Jew in the former Austro-Hungarian Empire.
          The news was a revelation to Kerry himself, who only found out about his Jewish roots while running in the 2004 presidential election.
          His paternal grandfather Frederick A. Kerry, was born Fritz Kohn or (Cohen in English spelling) in a town in what today is the Czech Republic before changing his name ahead of his immigration to the United States a century ago.
          Kerry is a long-time U.S. Senator representing Massachusetts, who was nominated Friday by President Barack Obama as his next secretary of state.
          Kerry, if confirmed in the position, will not be the first U.S. Secretary of State to have discovered that they are Jewish.
          In 1997 Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, who was born in Prague, learned three of her four grandparents were Jewish.
          read more: http://www.haaretz.com/jewish/features/when-kerry-was-kohn-the-jewish-roots-of-john-kerry.premium-1.489209

  • sepheronx

    I believe this isn’t the first time of rebranding a terrorist organization, which leads to nothing. It is so obvious now more so than before and after the whole debacle in Turkey, I doubt they will attempt much more.

    Currently, it is just putting another name to crap. And Russia will have no problem bombing them too. All they have to do is point out that it is simply rebranding of name, and that is it. Terrorist groups were already part of the negotiations before hand (FSA) and the Russians had no problem bombing them as well.