The Jeish al-Mujahideen (JM) rebel coalition located mainly in the Aleppo Governorate released its charter yesterday, the same day it confirmed that one of its most important component groups, Kataib Nour al-Din al-Zinki (KNDZ), had withdrawn. It comes a few days after JM’s leader, Lieutenant Colonel Muhammad Abdul Qadir (aka Abu Bakr), mentioned that the group was coordinating with the SMC and the Interim Government.
The charter is short, but telling; for the first time it lays out Jeish al-Mujahideen’s position on a number of key issues of governance in post-Assad Syria. At first glance, it seems to be a play for greater material support and assistance from the West, but the language is somewhat vague. It calls for independent judicial, services, and economic institutions, but is silent about legislation; neither Islam nor democracy is mentioned at all among the group’s definition, vision, or goals. As such, it seems to be a balancing act, seeming to evoke the trappings of a democratic system, but not necessarily contradicting the vision of the harder-line Islamists in the Governorate. JM has a good relationship with the Islamic Front and Jabhat al-Nusra, participating with both in a joint operations room in Aleppo, and the group is likely keen on not disturbing those relationships.
How much the charter and its release is related to the withdrawal of KNDZ is unclear; I had heard that KNDZ was perceived as not fairly distributing money and weapons it was getting to other JM component factions, so JM could be scrambling for more sources of funding now that KNDZ is gone. At the same time, KNDZ leader Sheikh Tawfiq Shahab al-Din said in a March interview with Tayseer Allouni that his group had flirted with the idea of joining the Islamic Front, potentially revealing tension between KNDZ and the seemingly moderate positions articulated in the JM charter. Based on what I have heard about Sheikh Tawfiq, however, that may not be the case.
Some highlights from the charter:
1: Calls for independent service and economic institutions and expresses support for civil activities. States that these institutions and activities should be separated from the military groups.
2: Calls for an independent, unified judiciary in the liberated territories. JM seems to distance itself from the Aleppo Sharia Commission (ASC), which is subordinate to Jabhat al-Nusra and the Islamic Front, but that some JM member brigades have worked with in the past. How the charter will change JM’s relationship with the ASC in practice is yet to be seen.
3: Proclaims that it will preserve the rights of “all components of the Syrian social fabric.”
No. 2014/108 / /
In the Name of God, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful:
We are Jeish al-Mujahidin, made up of the following factions:
1: Liwa al-Ansar
2: Liwa al-Salam
3: Liwa Jund al-Haramein
4: Harakat Nour al-Islamiyya
5: Liwa Amjad al-Islam
6: Liwa Halab al-Madina al-Islamiyya
7: Liwa Halab al-Shahba
8: Kataib al-Safwa al-Islamiyya
We call on all the factions active on the ground to unite the ranks to bring down the Regime. This is our charter:
The Charter of Jeish al-Mujahideen
1 – Definition: An independent military group that is supportive of civil activities (al-fa”aliyat al-madaniyya) and was formed to bring down the Regime, to lift oppression from the Syrian people, and to establish a state of justice and institutions.
2 – Vision: To work toward putting the forces active on the ground in a framework to be the nucleus of the army of the future. This army will protect the borders of the state, provide security, and lift oppression.
3 – Goals:
* To organize and prepare Jeish al-Mujahideen so that it becomes a comprehensive military institution.
* To strengthen the relationship between all factions active on the ground to arrive at a unified military institution.
* To support civil activities (al-fa”aliyat al-madaniyya) that serve the public interest and to separate the military from economic and service institutions.
* To provide security in the liberated territories, to unify the judicial authorities in an entity independent of armed groups, and to help address the people’s grievances.
* To liberate Syrian soil from the al-Assad Regime and those who are implementing its agenda.
* To pursue and try the symbols of the criminal al-Assad Regime who are implicated in unjustly shedding Syrian blood and to prevent them from fleeing from just accountability. This just accountability (will not be an expression of) personal revenge.
* To preserve the unity of Syrian soil and to stand against any plan to partition Syria.
* To preserve the rights of all components of the Syrian social fabric.
* To return stolen wealth to the people.
Signatures of participating factions:
Liwa Jund al-Haramein: Al-Raid Abu Hussein
Liwa Halab al-Madina al-Islami: Omar Salkhu
Harakat al-Nour al-Islamiyya: Abu al-Hathifa
Kataib al-Safwa al-Islamiyya: Khattab
Liwa Amjad al-Islam: Captain Ali Shakerdi
Liwa al-Ansar: Lieutenant Colonel Abu Bakr
Liwa Halab al-Shahba: Mulham ‘Akidi
Liwa al-Salam: Abu Qutayba
Praise be to God, Lord of Worlds