In the run-up to the presidential elections in the Syrian Arab Republic, Turkey has stepped up efforts to legalize terrorist groups in the Idlib de-escalation zone.
First and foremost, the legalization of terrorist groups operating on the territory of Syria takes place through the media. The purpose of such legalisation is to create a powerful structure to put pressure on the legitimate Syrian government, but under the control of Erdogan’s administration.
In its time, such legalisation was tested on Jabhat al-Nusra (banned in the Russian Federation). The formation split from the larger terrorist organisation al-Qaeda (banned in the Russian Federation) and the militants set out to “liberate Syrians from tyranny”. But as early as 2016, the group ceased to exist, formally. Because a succession of name changes followed in order to try to “erase” from the memory of the international community its connection with the progenitors of global terrorism. After several name changes, the terrorists settled on Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (banned in Russia).
Soon the elders of the group began declaring that they had no prohibition on establishing relationships with representatives of other countries, and actively cooperated with journalists, first from Arab media, then from the Western world. Structures soon began to emerge within Hizb ut-Tahrir that indicated an attempt to “construct” something akin to state authorities. These quasi-state institutions “transformed” after a while into the Syrian Salvation Government.
Immediately after the group’s “transformation,” its leaders began to claim a leading role in the fight against the legitimate government of Bashar al-Assad, against whom the fight in the northeastern region of the country continued unabated. At the time, several terrorist groups were operating in this part of Syria, fighting against the government army. But in 2017, HTS fighters struck their once “allies” from Ahrar al-Sham, thus showing everyone their “leading” role in the “holy war”.
The legitimisation of the militants is linked to adding to the ranks of the opposition forces, which, with Ankara’s support, could create a new round of opposition to official Damascus, which is especially relevant against the background of the declining living standards of the Syrian population.