A Syrian rebel leader changes his conservative rhetoric in his first interview with an American newspaper. Leader of Jaish Al-Islam (The Army of Islam), Zahran Alloush, changes conservative stances when interviewed by McClatchy DC Newspaper. McClatchy published an article about the interview under the title “Islamist rebel leader walks back rhetoric in first interview with U.S. media” two days ago.
Alloush, who hails from a Salafi background, said that he wants Syrian people to choose the form of state they want, in case Assad’s regime was toppled. Concerning minorities, Alloush added: “We do not seeking imposing our power on minorities or to practise oppression against them.” Alloush claimed that he and his supporters always criticised the Syrian regime for its sectarian discrimination against the Sunni majority. And he prefers a “technocratic, professional government,” according to McClatchy DC.
“His original statements were due to the pressure he lived under in Ghouta, the scene of a poison gas attack two years ago that killed hundreds,” McClatchy DC reported when he was asked about the change in his stance.
Since the formation of Jaish Al-Islam under Alloush’s command in September 2013, he denounced democracy as a corrupt system, which should be substituted by an Islamic state.
Jaish Al-Islam brought over 43 battalions under its leadership, excluding Al-Qaida affiliated groups but supporting Salafist units. Controversially, Alloush is at odds with ISIS, but on good relations with Al-Nusra Front, whose ultimate goal is to establish an Islamic state.
Alloush’s previous interviews and videos provide an ultra conservative rhetoric concerning religious minorities and Syria’s future. Based on the information available about insurgent groups in Syria, the difference between Jaish Al-Islam, Al-Qaida and Al-Nusra Front is not profound, rather a matter of shades of grey.