Syrian al-Qaeda wing Jabhat al-Nusra has issued a public ultimatum to the rival al-Qaeda in Iraq (AQI) today, giving them five days to accept “mediation” or face a full-scale war that would wipe them out.
Nusra leader Abu Mohammed al-Golani issued the statement, saying that religious scholars needed to be brought in immediately to end disputes about how AQI manages the territory it controls.
Al-Qaeda’s parent organization recently disavowed AQI, with reports suggesting the group is too brutal even by al-Qaeda’s standards. AQI and Nusra have been fighting off and on for weeks, with hundreds of fighters killed and the civil war against the Assad government increasingly taking a back seat to the “war within a war.”
The ultimatum is coming in part because of the assassination of the leader of a third al-Qaeda-linked faction, the Ahrar al-Sham. He was killed last week by AQI, and his faction, along with the rest of the Islamic Front, is said to be pushing Nusra on the issue.
But while Nusra is threatening to “terminate” AQI in both Syria and Iraq, recent fighting has not gone in their favor at all, and with AQI possessing much more territory, it isn’t clear Nusra can pose a major threat to them.