Damascus, Nov 2: Ayman al-Zawahri has issued another message and this time again it is an audio clip which has furthered doubts about whether the chief of the al-Qaeda is alive or dead.
Zawahri who has always relied on video messages has in the past three occasions only issued audio clips which has cast a shadow of doubt over his existence.
The latest audio clip calls for the unification of the Muslim forces (read ISIS) in Syria. The clip was released in the wake of Russia joining the fight against militants in Syria.
"The Americans, Russians, Iranians, Alawites, and Hezbollah are coordinating their war against us . Are we not capable of stopping the fighting amongst ourselves so we can direct all our efforts against them", Zawahri says in the recording.
Is Zawahri alive?
Since the past couple of months, there has been talk on whether Zawahri is alive or not. Experts would say that the fact that there are only audio messages of the al-Qaeda chief being delivered only adds to the doubt. Take the case of Mullah Omar of the Taliban. The last few messages that were released were only through audio clips.
Even if Zawahri is dead, the al-Qaeda cannot afford to confirm the same. The outfit is already battling hard for survival and if there any news of his death announced the al-Qaeda will only crumble further. Experts say that even if Zawahri is dead, the al-Qaeda will not confirm it- at least not for now.
The al-Qaeda has lost heavily in Syria, Iraq and now Afghanistan too. There is no motivation among its fighters and this has weakened the outfit further. After losing Syria and Iraq to the ISIS, it had hopes in Afghanistan. However, with the ISIS entering Afghanistan too, the hopes are only dashing for the al-Qaeda.
There is a sense of desperation:
The entry of Russia into Syria has weakened the ISIS a great deal. Russia has been relentless in its fight against the ISIS and the strikes the conducted has weakened the outfit a great deal.
With the ISIS on the retreat, the al-Qaeda finds an opportunity. The message by Zawahri clearly seeks cooperation with the ISIS so that they could fight as one unit.
The coming together of the ISIS and the al-Qaeda is not something that can be taken lying down. It would redefine the war in Syria and those wanting to wipe out terror will have to combat a unified force.
Experts say that they do not see the two outfits coming together in the near future. Even if they do, then it would very short lived as each has fought a turf war.
The ISIS will not be willing to give up the turf it has captured so easily to the al-Qaeda. However these are desperate days for the ISIS and the al-Qaeda and who knows what deal they may strike to stay relevant, experts also contend.