Aron Lund writes: On July 15, the Syrian al-Qaeda franchise known as the Nusra Front issued a statement explaining that it had expelled a former leader from the group. The man, a Syrian known as Saleh al-Hamawi, was among the Nusra Front’s founding members. A combination of personal and ideological tensions seem to have led to his marginalization and, finally, to his expulsion.
The Nusra Front is emerging from a two-year-old internal crisis. It remains trapped in a lethal four-front battle against the forces of President Bashar al-Assad, the extremist al-Qaeda splinter group known as the Islamic State, rival Syrian rebel factions, and the United States and its antiterrorist coalition, which initiated air strikes against the Nusra Front in September 2014.
As the group struggles to define its identity, other senior Nusra Front figures may well face the same fate as Saleh al-Hamawi. [Continue reading…]