The fighting among the princes of war in Syria has entered a new phase of bloody war and struggle over power from the far Syrian north to the far south.
The fighting among the princes of war in Syria has entered a new phase of bloody war and struggle over power from the far Syrian north to the far south. The main development happened recently after the militiamen of Zahran Alloush, leader of the so-called “Army of Islam”, announced clearing the city of Douma, the biggest stronghold of the Damascus’ eastern Ghouta militants “from the corruptors on earth”, referring to the so-called “Army of the Nation” led by Abu Sobhi Taha.
Roots of the Struggle
Alloush’s announcement of controlling the sites of “The Army of the Nation” besides the contradicting news about the destiny of its leader “Abu Sobhi Taha” concludes a campaign of executions in which most armed groups were involved. That campaign escalated last spring, exactly when Adnan Khabiyeh, the leader of the so-called “Leadership of the Douma Martyrs Brigade” was assassinated. At that time, the writer discussed the issue in an article entitled (The Curse of al-Mliha Topples Top Leader of Douma Militants), in which he mentioned that Douma indeed lives atop of a volcano’s crater due to the quarrels between factions and the plurality of views as well as the foreign financiers whose agendas regarding Syria vary.
Shortly later, an armed conflict erupted between two fronts- the first was the “United Leadership in Eastern Ghouta” led by Zahran Alloush while the other was “The Brigade of the Nation” commanded by Abu Sobhi Taha.
Clashes spread over a wide swath in al-Ghouta, where Alloush who is supported by Saudi princes fears the power of “the Brigade of the Nation.” Both parties used all their weapons in the battle, including assassinations, arrests, exchanged accusations of betrayal and trading the blood of “the martyrs” as well as blaming one another for monopolizing food in favor of the beneficiaries …etc.
As confrontations escalated, Zahran Alloush's militants intensified the operations of executing the leaders of “The Army of the Nation”, reaching arresting or perhaps executing Abu Sobhi Taha, who seemingly represents an obsession that haunts the influence of Alloush’s gunmen who want to monopolize the control over the areas held by the militant groups in eastern Ghouta. This can be inferred from Alloush himself who said last fall, “It will not be allowed to have two heads for one body” as he commented on announcing "The Army of the Nation” that was joined by 10 armed groups.
The situation tends to further escalations after the “Southern Front” of the Free Army published a statement in which it declared war on the “Army of Islam” (as a punishment) for what it did against the “Army of the Nation.” In the meantime, three armed groups led by the “United Leadership in al-Gouta which includes the Army of Islam” which were the Islamic Union of the Armies of al-Sham, the Movement of Ahrar al-Sham, and the al-Rahman Corps denied participating in the battles against the “Army of the Nation.”
Future of the Struggle
Perhaps the other reason that speeded up Alloush’s decision to execute his opponents in Douma is the growth of ISIL and al-Nusra influence at the expense of other factions. In this context, Alloush’s militants clashed fiercely few months earlier with ISIL in the town of Maydaa in Damascus countryside and accused the group of attempting to penetrate the eastern Gouta after it extended in the southern and the western countrysides of Damascus, especially in al-Qalamoun where it is reported that it controls most of the militants there.
Alloush’s attitude toward al-Nusra militants is not much differnt from his stance towards ISIL. The “Army of Islam” seemingly doesn’t want to open two fronts simultaneously before getting rid of its opponents in eastern Gouta, starting with ISIL besides the “Army of the Nation,” and perhaps “al-Nusra” later on as the talk about their “ideological”, “doctrinal” and field dissimilarities increased. This was reflected in the confrontations that took place at the end of last summer against Syrian army units in al-Mleiha, Adra al-Balad, and Adra al-Omaliya that ended up with huge defeat of the militant groups…
Of course, the struggle between Alloush and Abu Sobhi Taha and others represents a diminutive image for the raging fighting among the various militant groups across Syria. Each of these factions has its own reasons to attack the others, execute them and consider killing them as legal; all that is, of course, attributed to a “religious and doctrinal” justification!!!
For example, al-Nusra tended lately to fight the so-called “Martyr of Yarmouk Brigade” in Damascus countryside in accusation of pledging loyalty to ISIL. The Front also attacked the so-called “Syria Rebels Front” and “Hazm Movement” in Daraa, Idleb and Aleppo western countryside, accusing them of betrayal as well as treason and of aborting the “Islamic Project” as seen by al-Nusra.
Ironically, the same rhetoric has been used by ISIL to eradicate its opponents, especially in eastern Syria to defend the claimed "Caliphate". It is worth noting that discovering mass graves containing the corpses of the tribesmen and the locals of that region who refused pledging loyalty to ISIL happens almost on a daily basis.
The same manner was employed by the “Islamic Front” last year to fight the “Free Army” militants, particularly in Aleppo northern countryside at the Turkish borders as later it was discovered that the Front’s goal was to control the armories and food warehouses after raising the slogans of fighting apostates and Kharijites in face of its competitors.
Undoubtedly, the goal of all the militant groups is achieving the most possible influence at the expense of the rest of the factions, not to mention the multi-devotions of such groups depending on the foreign funders who use them to achieve their goals and interests, and to exploit them as bargaining units in any settlement that would take place someday.
The Syrian citizen remains the most affected by the conflicting foreign interests and the fight among the home militant groups. Perhaps the testimonies of the residents fleeing from the fire of eastern Ghouta are an additional proof of the tragic situations those areas are suffering from due to the struggles there, amidst increasing calls for achieving national reconciliation similar to those achieved in Barze, Damascus southern countryside and al-Muadamiya among others.
Translated by: Zeinab Abdallah