Written by Hadi Gholami Nohouji exclusively for SouthFront
These past days Idlib has —yet again— seen fierce battles between the extremist group Ahrar Al-Sham and the Al-Qaeda linked Hayat Tahrir Sham (HTS), battles that are weakening to the point of collapse the, arguably, strongest of the anti-Assad forces.
This new wave of conflict was predictable as since almost two weeks ago both HTS and Ahrar Al-Sham began fortifying their positions around each other and basically militarized Idlib, the main —and soon to be— last bastion of the Syrian rebels in the aforementioned Arab country.
The surprising fact has been that the increasing of the tensions that lead to this all out war is due to none other than the Syrian Revolutionary flag, a flag used by the FSA (Free Syrian Army) and its allies (including Ahrar Al-Sham) to symbolize the so called revolutionary ideas followed by these armed groups.
As noted by other observers of the now six year long conflict, the fact that two of the largest armed groups of the Syrian opposition go to war with each over the use of a flag is in itself a clear sign of the actual state of the so called Syrian revolutionary groups.
This inter-rebel fight, which has gone largely under the radar and —so far— has not been picked up by any of the major news outlets, shows the underlying reasons for the crumbling of the Syrian rebels while confronted with major challenges by the Syrian governmental forces.
The main reason, one can deduce, is the total lack of coordination and cooperation amongst the rebel groups that with their actions have clearly shown that are incapable of the most basic rational approach in cases of disagreements and crisis, which is in full display in their latest quarrel.
Also it showcases to the world the fact that the so called Syrian moderates are not even capable of negotiating with groups that sometimes ally with, a fact that raises serious doubts about the possibility of success of future Syrian peace talks.
On the other hand both HTS and Ahrar Al-Sham seem to forget that the longer their relentless battles continue, the more civilians will fall victim and as a result the civilians under rebel control in Idlib will start to lose their faith in the armed and extremist groups that govern them.
Similar episodes of rebel infighting have taken place before in the Syrian territories and the mounting civilian toll has, in most cases, decreased the support for the rebels and paved the way for agreements with the Syrian government to capture those places.
The continuity of such useless battles ensures the downfall of the Syrian rebels and also shows a clear lack of an intelligent and rational leadership that is capable of avoiding useless conflicts such as this while the threat of the Syrian government attacks on Idlib keeps growing larger by the day.
Even now the supporters of the so called Syrian revolution and the armed groups must be asking themselves the hard question and that is if they really want to be governed by bands of shortsighted warlords who do not compromise even when it is in the best interest of both sides and do not act according to their own groups’ benefits.