First Published: 2013-04-07

 

Zawahiri urges establishment of Islamic state in Syria to help return of Caliphate

 

Al-Qaeda chief calls on rebels to fight to establish Islamic state in Syria, warns France against its military intervention in Mali.

 

Middle East Online

Al-Zawahiri: Caliph-in-waiting?

DUBAI - Al-Qaeda chief Ayman al-Zawahiri has urged rebels to fight to establish an Islamic state in Syria, in an online audio message Sunday in which he also warned France against its military intervention in Mali.

"Let your fight be in the name of Allah and with the aim of establishing Allah's sharia (law) as the ruling system," he said in his first message posted on the Internet since last November.

"Do all that you can so that your holy war yields a jihadist Islamic state," said Zawahiri, adding that such a state would help to re-establish the Islamic "caliphate" system of rule.

"The enemy has begun to reel and collapse," he said, referring to forces loyal to Assad.

Islamist rebel groups such as the Al-Nusra Front, which has links to Al-Qaeda, have eschewed the main opposition National Coalition, making it clear their goal is the creation of an Islamic state to replace President Bashar al-Assad's regime.

Zawahiri's message will not sit easily with Western powers, who have expressed fears of extremist Islamism playing a growing role in the Syrian conflict and are reluctant to arm the rebels on the ground.

Assad's regime has long dismissed the rebels as "terror" groups backed by Western powers and driven by Al-Qaeda-style ideologies.

The United Nations says more than 70,000 people have been killed in Syria's two-year conflict, which broke out after the army unleashed a brutal crackdown against dissent, turning the uprising into a bloody insurgency.

Zawahiri in his message also warned France over its military involvement against Islamists in Mali, saying it will be defeated in the same way, according to him, the Americans were defeated in Iraq and Afghanistan.

"I warn France that it will face, God willing, the same faced by America in Iraq and Afghanistan," said the man who took over the leadership of Al-Qaeda after Osama bin Laden was killed by a US commando in May 2011.

"I call upon our Muslim nation in Mali to hold and be patient, and hopefully, effect a new defeat to the global crusade," he added.

France sent troops to Mali in January to block an advance on Bamako from the north by Islamist fighters. But it is preparing to hand over to a UN-mandated African force of 6,300 in the coming weeks.

 

Arab leaders meet in Sweimeh on conflicts, 'terror'

No unanimity on Syria ahead of Arab Summit

4 besieged Syria towns to be evacuated under deal

Tunisians demand Muslim marriage decree revoked

Historic Casablanca buildings crumbling in silence

US arrests Turkish banker for helping Iran violate sanctions

Turkey voices opposition to Kurdish flag in Kirkuk

Engineers to carry out urgent maintenance on IS-held Syria dam

Palestinian president meets Trump envoy at Arab summit

UN says over 300 civilians killed since start of west Mosul offensive

Disputed Iraqi province votes to fly Kurdish flag

Germany laments Turkey's 'unacceptable' spying

Syria opposition says no peace deal without US role

Turkey sends delegation to UK over electronics ban

UN chief urges Arab leaders to confront Syria war

Carlos the Jackal sentenced to life for Paris bombing

Arab League set to oppose Trump Israel embassy shift

Tributes flood in for anti-apartheid hero Ahmed Kathrada

US vows to never allow 'Israel-bashing' at UN

Netanyahu ban on MP visits to flashpoint holy site challenged

IS launches counter-attack to defend north Syria town

Saudi intercepts four ‘smuggled’ Yemen rebel missiles

Saudi to set up investment fund to help Jordan

Iran slams Bahrain terror cell claims as ‘delusional’

UN says 30 million unsure of next meal in MENA region

Putin to meet Iran President in Moscow

US, allies talk of post-ISIS future, but have no plan

Al-Qaeda, on the rise again, hits Assad where it hurts

Germany’s Turks cast early ballots for Erdogan referendum

German court convicts Pakistani of spying for Iran

Qatar to invest £5bn in UK within five years

'Kill Erdogan' banner probed in Switzerland, Turkey

Arab League chief urges resolution to Syria conflict

Serious challenges for Arab leaders in Amman

Israel arrests 22 ultra-Orthodox sex offenders

Syrian forces pause offensive on IS-held dam for repairs

Dubai's Emaar Malls offers $800m to buy Souq.com

Iraq launches fresh Mosul Old City advance

US-backed fighters battle IS near north Syria town

Hamas partially reopens Beit Hanoun crossing

Iraq investigates Mosul civilian deaths

In Algeria, everyone wants to be MP, few likely to vote

Yemeni rebel supporters flood streets on conflict’s anniversary

Syria fighting damages IS-held dam posing rising water risk

Iran to symbolically sanction 15 US companies