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Ahfad Al-Rasoul Brigade

The Ahfad al Rasoul Brigade, funded by the Qatari government, is a Syrian rebel group fighting against the Syrian government in the Syrian civil war. The leader of the Ahfad al Rasoul Brigade, Ziad Haj Obaid, is on the US-backed Arms Committee for the Free Syrian Army-dominated Supreme Military Command. This is the same group that the US government would be arming and funding.

The name Ahfad al Rasoul, meaning Grandsons of the Prophet, is also seen as Ahfad al-Rasoul and Ahfad al-Rasul. It operates independently of the Free Syrian Army, the Syrian Liberation Front, or the Syrian Islamic Front. With about 15,000 fighters [as of 2013, it is believed to be composed of several "battalions", including Al-Haqq battalion, Shuhada al-Jolan Battalion, and Suqour al-Jolan Battalion. In early September 2012 the formation of the Suqour Jabal al-Zawiya battalion gave it a presence in Idlib.

In August 2013 fighters from the Islamic State of Iraq and Levant and the Greater Syria clashed with members of a group affiliated to the so-called Free Syrian Army, driving them out from the city of Raqqa. Fractions and conflicts between different militant and terrorist groups fighting against Syria are on the rise, with reports of two al-Qaeda main affiliated groups forcing to gain more ground against their previous partners in the massive deadly insurgency in the Arab country, while smaller groups continue conflicts of their own. The fighting took place in Raqqa, where AQI fighters overran the FSA’s Ahfad al-Rasoul brigade, capturing the group’s headquarters and forcing its fighters to flee into neighboring Turkey.

After more than two years of fighting side-by-side and leading one of the bloodiest conflicts in the recent history of middle east, FSA and al-Qaeda affiliated groups have been making some moves against each other following reports of West’s apparent concerns over sending more arms to Syria and possibility of them falling into the hands of terrorists.

Secretary of State Kerry pushes forward an idea that Al- Qaeda-linked elements are not dominating the Syrian rebels’ forces and that moderate fighters are gradually gaining control over anti-Assad forces. But the Director of the Center on Peace and Liberty in Washington, Ivan Eland, told Russia Today September 05, 2013 "All other experts are now saying that the Al-Qaeda people are now dominating the Syrian opposition. That was one of the reasons that Obama was reluctant to give more aid, and even give any aid in the first place, and certainly hasn’t given too much aid to the opposition, because this Al-Qaeda domination contradicts the president’s own behavior before this..." The defense analyst predicted that Sunni Arab countries like Saudi Arabia and Qatar would support “whatever faction is most effective, whether the US attacks or not”.

Wealth bolstered the country's political ambitions, leading to Qatari foreign policy initiatives that too often have been at odds with US objectives. Examples include Qatar's relations with Hamas, Hezbollah, Iran, and Syria. Qatar considered its June 2008 mediation of the Lebanese presidential election impasse an unmitigated success. This success, in the Qatari view, would not have been possible had the Amir not been able to pick up the phone and jaw bone "bad actors" such as Syria and Iran. The Qatari leadership drew the lesson that engaging with a wide array of actors (Hezbollah, Syria, and Iran) can pay rich dividends. In general, the Amir held the view that Qatar should engage with everyone.

When it comes to Syria, prior to 2011 Qatar believed that the road to peace in the Middle East in part went through Damascus. For this reason, it was vital to engage the Syrians, in Qatar's view. The lack of US engagement with Damascus, in the Qatari view, contributed to Syria's increased alignment with Iran. They welcomed increased US engagement with Syria. Bringing Syria back to the Arab fold was desirable, in the Qatari view, and this goal would not be realized absent dialogue and engagement.

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Page last modified: 08-09-2013 19:26:30 ZULU