So this sounds fun, even if you can’t keep track of all the players without a scorecard:
The ISI (Islamic State in Iraq), one of the main al Qaeda groups in Iraq, has become stronger and bolder because of all the terrorists it has sent to fight in Syria. This has brought in more contributions to al Qaeda in Iraq and Syria and made the Iraqi al Qaeda leaders ambitious. Earlier this year the head of ISI defied orders from the al Qaeda supreme leader (bin Laden successor Ayman al Zawahiri) to stop poaching members from the Syrian Jabhat al Nusra (JN). That was because Zawahiri declared the April “merger” of the new (since January) Syrian JN with the decade old ISI as unacceptable and ordered the two groups to remain separate. The reason for this was that the merger was announced by ISI without the JN leadership agreeing to it. The merger formed a third group; Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) That was the problem, as many JN members then left their JN faction to join nearby ones being formed by ISIL Most JN leaders saw this as a power grab by ISI especially since most of the JN men who left to join ISIL were non-Syrians. Many of these men had worked with ISI before and thought they were joining a more powerful group. But ISIL was apparently just an attempt by ISI (which is having a real hard time in Iraq) to grab some glory, recruits, cash and power by poaching JN members. JN appealed to Zawahiri for help and got it. But as has often happened in the past, orders from al Qaeda supreme headquarters are being ignored. That’s not the first time al Qaeda has been called on to slap down misbehaving Iraqi Islamic terror groups and won’t be the last. In the past al Qaeda leadership escalated and quietly ordered the assassination of the rebellious Iraqi al Qaeda leaders. In any event the Iraqi branch (ISI) is now technically at war with the Syrian branch (JN). This has led to a growing number of deadly battles between Syrian and Iraqi branches of al Qaeda. ISI/ISIL has made it clear that it intends to unite Iraq and Syria in a new Islamic state under Iraqi leadership.
It’s a shame we don’t have some kind of strong presence in Iraq to help prevent dangerous nonsense such as this.