The merger of these two Islamist streams is reflective of the preference of a significant portion of the anti-Assad cohort in Syria. While these populations have demonstrated their opposition to ultra-radical influences, they have become more supportive of groups that advocate the implementation of some form of Shariah law in the country.
Further contributing to this trend is the widespread criticism, among moderate opposition elements, of Western nations’ refusal to use military force in Syria or increase arms supplies. Western hesitancy to intervene on humanitarian grounds, even after the Assad regime’s chemical-weapons attacks, has thus increased the influence of well-funded conservative religious figures and militant groups.
There are several indications that the creation of the Islamic Alliance may herald the creation of a “Syrian Islamic Army”—one that would challenge the Syrian opposition’s current, moderate leadership. Representatives from the SILF-affiliated Liwa Tawhid and Liwa Islam Brigades have since issued statements hinting that additional declarations will soon be made by the Islamic Alliance with regard to the formation of a “new army.”