“… Zawahiri lauds the success of al Qaeda in Syria and Iraq in contrast. In Syria, al Qaeda’s franchise, Jabhat al Nusra, has become the fastest-growing Qaeda movement in the world after Zawahiri called upon jihadists from across Islam to go and fight in Syria a year ago. Since then the Qaeda core headquarters in Pakistan has been in close communication with the Nusra front in Syria. Zawahiri also praises the Qaeda organization in Iraq for outlasting the American occupation and for its constant attacks on the Shia government in Baghdad.In both Syria and Iraq, Zawahiri blames Iran and its ally Hezbollah for supporting the Assad and Maliki governments. He accuses Tehran of secretly colluding with Washington in the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq. …
Zawahiri pays tribute to the Qaeda franchise in Iraq, the self-styled Islamic State of Iraq, for helping the al Nusra front in Syria get organized. Shortly after Zawahiri’s statement the leader of al Qaeda in Iraq, who uses the nom de guerre Abu Bakr al Baghdadi, publicly claimed credit for helping set up the Qaeda franchise in Syria and announced the two groups had merged into an Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria. Al Baghdadi’s statement confirmed what the United States had been saying for months: the al Nusra front is an offshoot of al Qaeda in Iraq.
Next the leader of al Nusra, who calls himself Abu Muhammad al Golani, walked it back a bit. He said he had not been “consulted” on any merger with the Iraqi group, although he was careful not to criticize al Baghdadi and stressed his loyalty to Zawahiri and al Qaeda. The exchange has brought al Nusra out of the closet; it is clearly now part of the Qaeda global jihadist campaign. Al Golani admitted that he had earlier been a fighter in Iraq and was a supporter of the Iraqi franchise but he went out of his way to declare al Nusra’s loyalty is to Zawahiri and the Qaeda core group
The tempest over al Baghdadi’s comments is likely to pass, and the two Qaeda groups will continue to collaborate closely. Both in Syria and Iraq al Qaeda is growing in numbers and power at a dangerous pace. And with Zawahiri’s encouragement, al Qaeda’s support base across the Islamic world is funneling sympathizers to go to Syria and Iraq to join the fight. In his statement Zawahiri makes clear the end state is creation of a new caliphate across Islam …”