Why have a two-sided civil war, when you can have a three-sided civil war? Four-sided if you count the Kurds.
Two Syrian rebel groups – one seeking an elected civil government, the other favoring the establishment of a religious state – are battling each other in the city of Tal Abyad…
Four people were killed Sunday in fighting here between the Farouq Battalions, which favors elections, and Jabhat al Nusra, or the Nusra Front, which the United States has declared an al Qaida-affiliated terrorist group. Since then, Farouq has been massing men here in an example of the growing friction that’s emerged in recent months as Nusra has captured strategic infrastructure across Syria’s north and east, including oil and gas installations, grain silos and a hydroelectric dam.
The McClatchy report is spinning this as a fight between pro-democracy moderates and anti-democracy Islamists, but the Farouq Battalions are a part of the Free Syrian Army that, at least used to be, loaded with Salafists.
So this is actually a firefight between one group of Salafists and another… which is not too surprising as Salafis don’t get along too well with each other.
And this isn’t really about democracy. It’s about power. Everyone is staking out their turf because it’s the ticket to money, recruits and control.
The Farouq Battalions and the Al Nusra Front may pretend that it’s all about theology or an end to Assad, but it’s really about who gets to run things and who gets to build a new dynasty on top of the ruins.
Powerful families send their sons to stake out a claim. Others fund fighters to make the claim for them. Islam isn’t mere religion, it’s theocracy, which means that it acts as justification for power. The Koran and its interpreters provide the legalese for ad hoc regimes run by Salafists to spring up anywhere.
But in the final analysis, the purpose of power is power.