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.

 

Saudi warns of 'disastrous consequences' over US 9/11 law

3,800 Syrian civilians killed by Russian strikes in one year

World leaders attend Shimon Peres’ funeral

UN warns 100,000 people trapped in South Sudan town

Bulgaria approves full-face Islamic veil ban

Jordanians rally against gas deal with Israel

Israel pays Turkey $20 million compensation for Gaza flotilla raid

Egypt MP suggests university virginity tests

Morocco to speed repatriation of citizens in Germany illegally

Turkey opposition leader condemns Erdogan’s ‘coup against democracy’

French jets set off to join action as battle for Mosul looms

Moroccan left hopes to offer 'third way' at polls

Renault signs Iran auto venture

Saudi border guard killed, 3 civilians hurt by shelling from Yemen

Turkey issues warrants for judicial, prison staff

MSF warns Syria, Russia to stop ‘bloodbath’ in Aleppo

Russia waiting to see OPEC freeze deal details

Police raid Casablanca market after rumours of sex dolls

UN warns 700,000 will need aid once Mosul offensive starts

Saudi seeks oil leadership in economic pinch

Egypt court suspends block on island transfer to Saudi

Bid for international Yemen war probe fails at UN

UN warns 'hundreds' in Aleppo need medical evacuation

Palestinian president to attend Peres funeral

King Abdullah visits home of murdered writer

Amnesty accuses Sudan of using chemical arms against Darfur civilians

Bahrain says 9/11 bill will harm US

9/11 bill puts US, Saudi cooperation in question

UN envoy says Syria talks 'very difficult with bombs falling'

Erdogan says Moody's was 'bought' after downgrade

Erdogan: Turkey may need state of emergency for more than a year

Iraqi activist wins Norway rights prize

Kidnapped German woman, baby freed in Syria

Turkey stops Kurdish TV broadcasts

A year of bombing in Syria triggers limited interest in Russia

Obama defends refusal to use military force to end Syria civil war

US Congress overrides Obama's veto of Saudi 9/11 bill

OPEC agrees deal to cut oil output

Palestinians react to death of Peres

Poverty takes toll in rebel-held Yemen fishing village

Kerry threatens to end negotiations with Russia on Syria

Kuwaiti court scraps petrol price hike

Iraq requests more US troops to take on IS in Mosul

Airstrikes hit hospitals in rebel-held Aleppo

Iran nuclear chief says not worried about Trump