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SEPTEMBER 2020

Syrian Opposition Summit To Legitimize Al-Qaeda Failed Before Start

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Syrian Opposition Summit To Legitimize Al-Qaeda Failed Before Start

Abu Mohammad al-Julani, leader of Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (formerly Jabhat al-Nusra, the Syrian branch of al-Qaeda)

A planned meeting for the Syrian opposition in the Turkish city of Antioch was cancelled due to “security reasons,” the al-Araby al-Jadeed outlet reported on March 14, citing opposition officials who organized the meeting.

Many opposition bodies were invited to the extensive meeting, including the National Syrian Army (NSA), the National Front for Liberation (NFL), the Syrian Higher Negotiation Committee (HNC), the National Coalition for Syrian Revolution and Opposition Forces, The opposition’s delegation to the Astana talks, the Syrian Interim Government and the Syrian Islamic Council (SIC).

The officials didn’t clarify the nature of the “security reasons” which led to the cancellation of the meeting. However, other sources told al-Arabi al-Jadeed that the meeting was canceled because the Turkish-backed National Coalition for Syrian Revolution and Opposition Forces and the Syrian Interim Government had refused to attend it.

Previously, the organizers claimed that a series of high-level decisions and measures will be announced during the meeting. Syrian opposition activists revealed that one of these decision would be the merge of the Syrian Interim Government with the Salvation Government, which is run by Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS).

HTS, commonly known as the al-Nusra Front, was the main branch of al-Qaeda in Syria up until 2017. The plan to merge its government with the opposition was seen as a clear attempt to legitimize al-Qaeda presence in Syria.

Two months ago, a source in the HNC confirmed to Sputnik news agency that Turkey is working to transform HTS into a political party. The source said that the Turkish-backed party will attempt to mimic to Lebanese Hezbollah.

The failure of the meeting is a blow to Turkey’s plans and HTS leader Abu Mohammad al-Julani personally. However, other similar attempts may be undertaken in the next few months. Turkey appears to be in rush to execute its plans for northern Syria before the Syrian-Iranian-Russian alliance would make a final decision to implement a military option in Idlib.

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