ISIS and Al Qaeda strike up alliance in Syria

Posted Nov 16, 2014 by Stephen Morgan
A report from Associated Press sources says that after a year or more of fighting each other, Al Qaeda's affiliate in Syria, the Jabhat al-Nusra Front and ISIS have reached an agreement to stop hostilities and work together.
ISIS fighters
ISIS fighters
Agence France-Presse
According to the Independent, the two jihadist groups held a meeting earlier in the month, but details have only come to light in the last few days. Reports say that the two groups decided to put differences aside, in order to fight the Syrian regime and their more moderate opponents.
A number of other militant Islamic groups were also present, including the elite Khorasan Group, made up of al-Qaeda veterans from Afghanistan and Pakistan and Jund al-Aqsa, which has now joined Isis, as well as a hardline Muslim group called Ahrar al-Sham.
Differences between ISIS and Al Qaeda go back to their split in 2012, when Al Qaeda leader, Ayman al-Zawahiri, criticized its brutality and fanaticism, warning that their policies would alienate ordinary Muslims in occupied areas.
The Telegraph says that the two groups agreed to cooperate on destroying the Syrian Revolutionaries Front, a moderate US-backed rebel group and Kurdish forces.
The animosity between the two groups has led to bitter fighting during which al-Nusra even made alliances with moderate groups to attack the so-called Islamic State. Now that seems to be over, at least for the time being.
The accord could help the two groups at a time when there are strong indications that ISIS is on the back foot and suffering setbacks at the hands of Iraqi and Kurdish forces and US air strikes. It might also prove beneficial to Al Qaeda when more and more jihadist groups are turning their backs on Al Qaeda and declaring allegiance to ISIS, as has recently happened in Libya and Egypt.
The Washington Post quotes Tom Joscelyn, an analyst for the website Long War Journal, who says ““If there is less blood being spilled against each other and they don't have to worry about that, that's going to make it easier for the jihadis to go after Assad or any Western-backed forces.”
While this new alliance could create problems for the US, American military and intelligence strategists believe the alliance may be short lived because of ongoing disputes over policy and personality differences among leaders and it may just, in the end, boil down to a truce and tactical agreements.