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.

 

Lebanese army launches anti-IS offensive on Syria border

Israel freezes implementation of settlement law

Police confirm Finland 'terror attack'

UN demands access to Yemen ports

Civilians stay on frontlines despite dangers in Raqa

Spain hunts suspects as IS claims attack

Turkey slams 'arrogant' German reaction to Erdogan poll call

Aid project helps Syria refugees feel at home in Jordan

Low-cost attacks a new reality for Europeans

Forces of Libya's Haftar say commander wanted by ICC in detention

Yemen rebels urged to free political commentator

Iranian footballer breaks silence over ban for playing Israelis

Erdogan meddles in German politics

IS fighters almost encircled in Syrian desert

For Israel, White House ties trump neo-Nazis and antisemitism

Saudi Arabia installing cranes at Yemen ports

13 dead, 100 injured in two Spanish seaside city attacks

Iran reform leader ends hunger strike

Van ploughs through pedestrians in Barcelona terror attack

13 killed in Barcelona van attack

Iraq acknowledges abuses in Mosul campaign

Netanyahu under fire for response to US neo-Nazism

Israel to free high-profile suspects in money laundering probe

Spanish police shut down jet-ski migrant smugglers

Syrian actress, activist Fadwa Suleiman dies in Paris

Israeli court extends detention for Islamic cleric over ‘incitement’

UAE to provide $15 million a month to Gaza

Sudan's Bashir 'satisfied' with Nile dam project

US-backed rebels say American presence in Syria to last ‘decades’

Tunisian clerics oppose equal inheritance rights for women

Israel strikes almost 100 Hezbollah arms convoys in 5 years

UN hopes for eighth round of Syria talks before year’s end

LONG READ: How Syria continues to evade chemical weapons justice

Civilians killed in US-led raids on Raqa

Qatari pilgrims begin flooding into Saudi by land

Turkey arrests 9 more journalists for alleged ‘Gulen links’

Iran’s Karroubi on hunger strike over 6-year house arrest

Saudi Arabia to restart work on Grand Mosque expansion

Algeria reshuffles cabinet, nominates three new ministers

Syria rebels lose heavyweight faction

ICC orders Mali ex-jihadist pay 2.7 m euros for Timbuktu destruction

Libya seeks to ‘organise’ NGOs carrying migrant rescue Ops

More than one million South Sudan refugees in Uganda

Beirut, Damascus pledge to boost economic ties

Two killed on Gaza-Egypt border