Al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri has issued a statement today calling for the various al-Qaeda-linked jihadist factions in Syria to be more patient, and rely of guerilla tactics in what he says is shaping up to be a “long battle with the Crusaders and their allies the Shi’ites.”
Officially, al-Qaeda no longer has an affiliate within Syria, after the Jabhat al-Nusra formally cut ties. This was done at the behest of Zawahiri, who thought cutting ties might help Nusra to court more Islamist allies in establishing a de facto state in the Idlib Province.
In practice, however, several factions, including Nusra, are ideologically aligned with al-Qaeda, including some of the so-called moderate Islamist factions which are backed by Western nations, but whose leadership are very frank about considering themselves ultimately to be loyal to al-Qaeda.
Zawahiri accused the West of doing everything they could to prevent “Islamic rule” in Syria, but insisted that such a wave was sweeping the region at any rate, and that it was just a matter of time before the Islamists won.