Yesterday’s announcement of a merger between Jabhat al-Nusra, one of the key Syrian rebel forces, and al-Qaeda in Iraq (AQI) was discussed today by the Nusra leadership, which insists that they have always pledged allegiance to the al-Qaeda parent group.
The leadership downplayed the announcement, however, saying that they have never really kept al-Qaeda ties a secret. Al-Qaeda certainly hasn’t kept it a secret either, loudly endorsing the group on a regular basis.
The formalization of those ties complicates the Syrian rebellion, however, with secular factions getting ready to fight a secondary war with the Islamist blocs, which are getting stronger all the time.
Then there’s the Iraq connection. With AQI more formally involved in the Syrian war, Iraqi Shi’ite militias are less shy about sending their own fighters to Syria to attack them, carrying the Iraqi sectarian civil war across the border.