Friday, July 07, 2017
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Is Ahrar Sham Merely a Turkish-Qatari Proxy Force?

After months of negotiations, approximately 10 days ago, an agreement including the major factions in northern Syria was signed to finally merge into one military and political entity. It was a deal that included both Jabha Fath Sham and Ahrar Sham, and others. The new leader of Ahrar Abu Ammar Al Omar signed the deal on behalf of his group. All that was left was for the deal to be announced.
Ahrar did not feel comfortable allowing JFS leader Abu Muhammad Jawlani to lead the new unified group due to it’s former Al Qaida offiliation. Jawlani stated that he was willing to not assume the leadership role and was thereby given the millitary affairs portfolio in the deal and Ahrar Sham’s new leader, Abu Ammar, was to head the entire opposition unified force.
Then suddenly, Ahrar Sham pulled out of the arrangement citing that their shura council could not agree. This in spite of the fact the group leader signed the deal. It left the other groups in chaos. Ahrar Sham had been adamant that if there were to be a merger with Jabha Fath Sham, then they would have to split with Al Qaida. They cited that the only thing which was stopping the merger, for the good of the Syrian revolution, was the Al Qaida link. Then several months ago, Jabha Fath Sham officially severed ties with their former parent organization. However, Ahrar Sham has continued to resist the merger which has left many groups and Syrians in general wondering on behalf of who does Ahrar actually operate?
Ahrar has lost much of the trust of the Syrian people in recent times. In the areas of Bab Al Hawa, angry residents smashed Ahrar checkpoints because the group refused to participate in the attempt to break the siege imposed upon Aleppo in the days just before residents were ushered out. Ahrar stated that they have internal issues and could not participate. It was a time when thousands of hungry, cold, and displaced Muslims were looking for any helping hand. Jabha Fath Sham prepared their weaponry and personell for the fight. However, Ahrar did not show up. Ultimately the attempt was not successful however it left Syrians wondering if the leadership of Ahrar seems to have loyalties elsewhere. At that time the group was participating in the Euphrates Shield operation that was backed heavily by Turkish armour and troops. The mission objective was to clean out the border areas of ISIS millitiamen and secure the Turkish border.
As of last night a document has surfaced showing that there has been a new merger of sorts between the following groups:
Ahrar Sham Jaysh Islam Ajnad Sham Suqour Sham
Jabha Shamiyya Fastaqim Faylaq Ar Rahman Faylaq Sham
Jabha Ahlusham
This is a Turkish-Qatar initiative that, as you may have noticed, excludes Jabha Fath Sham. Strangely, over the past week there have been several high level assasinations of JFS commanders around Syria. While there is absolutely no evidence to suggest Ahrar leadership had any prior knowledge of the stepped up campaign against their snubbed counterpart, the manner in which the new merger was carried out has left Syrians who were excited to finally have a single unified fighting force soured on the group.
At the time of the writting of this article OGN has yet to be able to obtain a copy of the ceasefire agreement that Ahrar officials participated in with Turkish and Russian negotiators. Regime officials say that the ceasefire deal doesn’t include JFS. Opposition officials state that they are a part of the deal. Without an actual copy of the agreed upon signed arrangement, it is impossible to tell which side is actually telling the truth. However, it is clear that JFS has been targeted by drone attacks, regime airstrikes, and assasination attempts by way of car bombs all since the ceasefire deal was signed just a short while ago.
With a culture of non transparency that is rampant amongst the different rebel factions it is difficult to prosecute or defend Ahrar in the court of public appeal. However one thing is certain. Ahrar Sham no longer seems to hold much of the love, respect, and most importantly the trust the Syrian people once had for them.

3 thoughts on “Is Ahrar Sham Merely a Turkish-Qatari Proxy Force?

  1. This sounds to me very much like the Russians and Turks trying to cobble together a pliant force to be used to boot out Assad for the Syrians, a lot of problems arising, corralling factions. Unfortunately, at this stage of the game, the Syrian revolution is in practice in the hands predominantly of two foreign powers*, those just named, which will be a bitter disappointment for many. But both Erdogan and Putin want Assad gone. Personally I no longer care how the régime is removed, so long as it is. But, I am not a Syrian. Nor, unlike you, am I there.

    *Each overtly militarily present in Syria. Qatar isn’t. It’s just a moneybags, as ever.

  2. What is this BS? Did the author give bayah to al-Golani?
    I disagree with this article from OGN, sadly this article misinforms and criticise Ahrar Sham based on false information and accusations.
    Let me state some corrections and thoughts:
    1- Ahrar Sham did the right thing by not merging into JFS led-unification project because the current leaders of Ahrar Sham knows that this move [merging with former al-Qaeda Jihadists] will not benefit the Syrian revolution in any form also they will be a targeted by US led coalition airstrikes. They prefered to be part of the FSA\Islamist led – unification project, but due to to internal divisions were pro-JFS coupists [Jaysh al-Ahrar] inside Ahrar Sham leadership prefer the unification with JFS and blocked any effort to join and finalise the talks with FSA\Islamist factions.
    2- “Jawlani stated that he was willing to not assume the leadership role and was thereby given the military affairs portfolio in the deal and Ahrar Sham’s new leader, Abu Ammar.” It’s funny how they are trying to make JFS look more cooperative and more willing to merge than Ahrar which is not true, the articles did not reveal al-Golani’s leadership roles which are: he will be General military commander and its deputy as well, he will have the ultimate control over all groups’ weapons and equipment and they can’t name any candidate in the political office without his conformation. JFS called upon FSA and Islamist factions to accept its unification project but they all rejected it including Ahrar Sham.
    3- “They cited that the only thing which was stopping the merger, for the good of the Syrian revolution, was the Al Qaida link. Then several months ago, Jabha Fath Sham officially severed ties with their former parent organization. However, Ahrar Sham has continued to resist the merger which has left many groups and Syrians in general wondering on behalf of who does Ahrar actually operate?” This author is a fucking idiot, how on earth is merging with JFS Jihadists a good move for the Syrian revolution? It will be a catastrophic move that will make the situations worse for the Free Syrians and their cause in general. It will reinforce the Assadist and Russian narrative that the armed opposition are dominated by al-Qaeda jihadists.
    4- “Ahrar has lost much of the trust of the Syrian people in recent times. In the areas of Bab Al Hawa, angry residents smashed Ahrar checkpoints because the group refused to participate in the attempt to break the siege imposed upon Aleppo in the days just before residents were ushered out. Ahrar stated that they have internal issues and could not participate.” The Syrian civilians are angry at all opposition armed groups and not just against Ahrar only, you can watch many protests of people demanding unification and not attacking Ahrar. However, the author needs to show the evidence of that which he did not. Ahrar Sham lost hundreds of its fighters to break the siege on Aleppo twice but they couldn’t due to many reasons also during the evacuation from Eastern Aleppo Ahrar and FSA factions to be the last ones to leave to insure the civilians leave first unlike JFS that decided to jump on the first convoy leaving Aleppo.
    5- “Ahrar has lost much of the trust of the Syrian people in recent times.” where is the prove of that? I can show you many videos of people protesting against Assad, ISIS and Nusra Front, and not one they have protested against the armed opposition. This proves everything!
    6- “This is a Turkish-Qatar initiative that, as you may have noticed, excludes Jabha Fath Sham. Strangely, over the past week there have been several high level assassinations of JFS commanders around Syria.” This is not a foreign initiative but a Syrian one to save their revolution. I agree that Turkey and Qatar have a strong say in many policies of the Syrian armed opposition, but not merging with JFS is a common sense since fighting for the interests of al-Qaeda is not what the Syrian started this blessed revolution in the first place. It looks like the author is trying to blame the Syrian opposition factions [including Ahrar Sham] for the assassinations of JFS commander recently. Which is a false allegation.
    7- “However one thing is certain. Ahrar Sham no longer seems to hold much of the love, respect, and most importantly the trust the Syrian people once had for them.” I do not live in Syria and I cannot speak for the people on the ground but I personally believe that Ahrar is much more loved and trusted than JFS anytime and anyday.
    8- “At that time the group was participating in the Euphrates Shield operation that was backed heavily by Turkish armour and troops.” We can disagree with way the Euphrates Shield operation is being carried on like random shelling on civilians in al-Bab, but overall fighting for Euphrates Shield operation is in the benefit of the Syrian revolution especially the buffer zone plan.

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