Rajeh Saeed
April 16, 2013

Islamic State of Iraq (ISI) leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi’s announcement that his group had merged with the Syrian group Jabhat al-Nusra (JAN) marks a remarkable development in the modus operandi of armed groups affiliated with al-Qaeda in the Middle East.

The announcement not only confirmed what analysts have been saying for months about the link between ISI and JAN, but was remarkable in the sense that JAN leader Abu Mohammed al-Joulani hastened to refute the announcement of JAN’s merger with ISI, al-Qaeda’s branch in Iraq, and instead “renewed the bayaa” (oath of allegiance) to al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri.

What could the two contradictory announcements by the leaders of al-Qaeda branches in Iraq and Syria signify?

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