Under many a label, with each international circumstance, wearing a new costume, not to mention volatile tactics, this is what Jabhet al-Nusra does in Idlib in keeping with Turkish demands.
At present, Hayat Tahrir al-Sham or as formerly known as Jabhet al-Nusra: an organization that mastered the game of changing speeches and uniforms in line with regional and international pressures; once it declares its extremism as an arm of al-Qaeda in the Levant to return and intimidate the international community, again it appears to support the opposition while crushing it later, all this lies in establishing an Islamic emirate that revives the dreams of the Turkish Sultanate.
Once the popular protests in Syria took on an armed character and were linked to the interests of the regional and international countries, Abu Muhammad al-Golani came to the forefront in late 2011. At the request of al-Qaeda leader, he formed an arm of the organization in Syria under the name of Jabhet al-Nusra.
Al-Golani, along with six al-Qaeda terrorists, crossed the border into Syria: Saleh al-Hamwi, Abu Mariah al-Qahtani, Abu Anas al-Ordini, Abu Jalibib al-Ordini, Abu Omar al-Filistin, and Anas Hasan Khattab in summer 2011.
The beginning of al-Nusra and its leader…
Before handling the story of al-Nusra and the stages of its development, we must know where this organization originated from and how its foundations were laid down, which many still ignore, and separate between Daesh and al-Nusra, but in fact, their source of composition was one.
The Syrian-Iraqi border, which is vast in scope, has been easy to cross since ancient times for groups: smugglers to jihadists who took this route but reversely. But these groups went to Iraq on the pretext of fighting Americans after the invasion of Baghdad, Syria has become the destination of these organizations.
At a dark night of 2011, al-Qaeda terrorists gathered under the command of Aws al-Mosulli and entered Syria. Unlike his comrades, who were known to the regional and international intelligence services such as Abu Jalibib and Abu Mariah al-Qahtani, al-Mosulli was known but was a mysterious person unknown to anyone.
This journey in the desert aimed to move Daesh experience in Iraq to Syria, al-Mosulli, who was jailed as Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi in the US-maintained camp Bucca, went out and was assigned the same task. The two took part in the organization and al-Baghdadi became an Amir, while Mosulli was appointed governor of Nineveh.
Al-Golani and Baghdadi… princes of one war, but in different ways
These two individuals did not know that their entry into Syria, which made them the top news bulletins and global terror lists, would push them to split from one another, but they were still working the same way.
Both became warlords on his side. Baghdadi became the leader of Daesh, and Mosulli changed his name several times to become Abu Muhammad al-Golani in the end.
Al-Baghdadi and al-Golani hold the same thinking and ideology, but as they entered the Syrian territories and according to the sources, they differed about the way and method of governance and international relations, where al-Baghdadi’ sought to declare his extremist ideas and the return of all countries of the world, while the work of al-Golani to appease the West and the opposition to achieve its goals.
The leader Abu Saleh al-Hamawi who split from Jabhet al-Nusra said that al-Golani stressed the consolidation of the relationship with Turkey and following its guidance, according to al-Golani that it is guidance from Amir of Qaeda Ayman al-Zawahiri, who called on his supporters in Syria not to target Turkish interests.
The path of al-Nusra between al-Qaeda and (the revolution) according to international understandings
As we said at the outset that al-Nusra organization was changing according to the international and regional political circumstances, and thus it turns out that the smart movements of al-Nusra were not inspired by its princes, but stemmed from the guidance of the Turkish intelligence.
Al-Gulani appeared in his first interview (his face hidden) in 2013, during which he drew the image of his group as an extension of the global jihadist movement, which he said “rose to judge the law of God in his land” and laid the foundations of his group’s relationship with the Syrian society, but it lacked the instigator, the guider and the advocate, “as he hinted at their intention to intervene in Lebanon.
But his speech turned in another interview in mid-2016 (revealing his face), where his plans did not exceed the borders of Idlib and the countryside of Hama and Aleppo in what is called demilitarized zones, according to the agreement of Russia and Turkey in September 2018, as his description of his elements as “Mujahideen” was absent.
He jumped between the banks… Escorting (opposition) and crushing it later
After al-Golani benefited from the name of al-Qaeda and gained power and influence and enticed the dreamers to establish an Islamic emirate, and became the strongest group in the Syrian territory, and played on the ambitions of West haters as the “infidel West,” but the shift of al-Nusra to Jabhet Fatah al-Sham, then Tahrir al-Sham had a lot of political changes and maneuvers.
The most prominent changes that took place on al-Nusra is abandoning al-Qaeda flag and emerging in a new appearance. In July of 2016, al-Golani announced the separation of the “Jabhet al-Nusra” from al-Qaeda and becoming “Jabhet Fatah al-Sham”.
In this period, the Syrian arena witnessed a military escalation on several fronts. The talk started about the intention of the United States and Russia to strike the mercenaries of Jabhet al-Nusra, especially after Washington classified it as a terrorist organization which increased the pressure on Turkey. Al-Nusra changed its name to Jabhet Fatah al-Sham.
However, Washington expressed its lack of conviction about what happened and said, “This trick will not fool anyone, and it is waiting for actions, not words.”
The principles of the new Jabhet al-Nusra have never differed since its beginning in 2012, and it remains determined to “establish an Islamic emirate”.
When the Syrian opposition was receiving Western support, al-Nusra took advantage of it, favoring it and uniting it. But this situation did not last long as “Hayat Tahrir al-Sham” turned the table on the factions all of sudden and began to crush or expel them from Idlib or force them to surrender one by one.
Hayat Tahrir al-Sham… updated version of al-Qaeda under Turkish supervision
The international pressure on Turkey over al-Nusra and the foreign terrorists fighting in its ranks increased, especially after the Sochi agreement between Russia and Turkey. As Russia escalated its raids on the Jabhet Fatah al-Sham.
Turkey saw that its closest solution to it and Fatah al-Sham mercenaries was to play again and to use the same tactics and to create a new version under the name of Hayat Tahrir al- Sham organization, as part of its efforts to protect it from the list from terrorism.
Turkey is seeking to find a foothold in Syria through the so-called “rescue government” of its mercenaries in Idlib, and thereby stay in the Syrian game and benefit from the agreement with Russia, too.
Hayat Tahrir al- Sham took advantage of the so-called de-escalation and ensured that the regime did not attack it with a Russian guarantee. It took it upon itself to eliminate all other organizations and was unique in controlling the demilitarized zones.
Turkish game in “demilitarized” Where to?
The mystery remains the master of the situation in what is now called demilitarized areas, where the Turkish game reached a dead end. In that area, which al-Nusra controls 90% of its area, there are 12 points of Turkey under the name “control points”, that is, the Turkish forces are moving in an area under the control of al-Nusra, and under its protection, from which attacks on the regime’s forces are launched.
In fact, Turkey has sought to establish an area of influence close to its borders, but cannot invest politically. It cannot persuade the United States to accept its plan in these areas, especially in the context of a dispute between the two sides over the entire Syrian file. It cannot persuade Russia to accept these mercenaries and involve them in the so-called constitutional commission, Turkey should look for a new solution.
There are not many options available to Turkey, it is looking for political bazaars and seeks to convince Washington and Russia to support its aggression in northern and eastern Syria provided that these mercenaries are terminated, if not wish to keep these areas under its control, but Russia has repeatedly expressed its resentment of Turkish procrastination by agreements on these areas.
A few days ago, a group called “Saraya Khaled Ibn al-Walid” pledged Daesh coinciding with a meeting between the so-called Turkish-affiliated coalition with Russia which were flirting Russia after describing it as the murderer of the Syrian people, the question which poses itself here is: Is it the outcome of Russian-Turkish agreement to eliminate al-Nusra by transforming it into Daesh, is it a green light to the regime to attack Idlib and Turkish satisfaction in granting its mercenaries in the coalition a merely political role, especially with recent statements by Russian President Vladimir Putin, who said: “We must continue to fight the terrorists in the Syrian Idlib, I do not rule out a comprehensive operation in Idlib but this is not appropriate now.”