“What’s happening is a reaction to Assad saying Syria was a secular state.” There is an analysis of the cause of the Syria uprisings that has never been discussed in any depth in the mainstream media.
ALEPPO, Syria “” The voice of Islamist groups is growing louder in Syria as a number of Syrians in the battleground province of Aleppo are expressing increasing interest in establishing a government that leans toward a strict Islamic state….
The U.S. State Department implicitly recognized the growing influence of extremist groups in Syria last month when it designated as a terrorist group Jabhat al-Nusra, which is fighting the Assad regime in Syria. The State Department said the group’s ties with the group al-Qaeda in Iraq were among the main reasons for its decision.
While many in Syria look upon Jabhat al-Nusra with trepidation, it has won support among many Syrians who see it as both an effective military organization and a generous humanitarian group.
“Through aid, Jabhat al-Nusra can enlarge its base of public support more and more,” said Abu Ali, a Syrian involved in relief efforts in Aleppo. “Many people are starting to support them because of the aid.”
Among its ranks are Syrians and foreign fighters who have battle experience in Iraq and elsewhere, according to the State Department. Jabhat al-Nusra receives considerable funding from Persian Gulf states such as Qatar and Saudi Arabia, according to several news reports.
The funding has allowed Jabhat al-Nusra to increase operations in Syria at a time when moderate groups simply lack the resources, rebel commanders say.…
“If it continues like it is now, groups like Jabhat al-Nusra will have a lot of influence after the Assad government falls,” said Abdul Rahman, an opposition military commander in Aleppo who considers himself a moderate.
Even some Syrians who want an Islamic state in a post-Assad Syria view groups such as Jabhat al-Nusra as extreme.
One former member, Abu Osama, said he left the group after it tried to get him to sign an oath pledging to fight with the group anywhere in the world. Now fighting with the rebel Free Syrian Army, Abu said some fighters with Jabhat al-Nusra consider Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi, a member of the Muslim Brotherhood, an infidel because he has not enforced sharia “” strict Islamic law “” in Egypt.
The group, which forbids tobacco use, has also been known to pull cigarettes out of the mouths of smokers going through their checkpoints.
Not everyone thinks Jabhat al-Nusra will have significant influence in a post-Assad Syria.
“These groups are no more scary to us and the general population than fringe groups in the U.S. like the skinheads,” said Abu Ahmad, executive officer of the Free Lawyers Association in Aleppo, which opposes Assad’s regime.
After 40 years of the Assad family’s harsh rule, Syrians simply want a government that is the opposite of what they’ve known, Ahmad said.
“What’s happening is a reaction to Assad saying Syria was a secular state,” Ahmad said.
Few Syrians interviewed in Aleppo believe that a brand of Islam like that practiced by Jabhat al-Nusra can survive in Syria. Even so, any regime that succeeds Assad is likely to be Islamic in nature, some Syrians say.
“We want a regime that applies sharia law, but that is fair and just,” said Abu Mohammad, a Free Syrian Army commander in Aleppo and a member of the Muslim Brotherhood.
“Many Muslims believe that if we apply the true Islam, we can use it to get rid of corruption and problems like bribery,” he said.