There have been new developments yesterday, within the ranks of the Free Syrian Army operating inside the country, intended to relieve the FSA from the pressure PM Erdogan of Turkey, along with the Muslim Brotherhood, are exerting against its leadership.
Because the SNC, dubbed the main Syrian opposition, was formed by Erdogan and the MB, its aims mirror Erdogan‘s wishes, which have been on the side of a political solution in Syria rather than regime change. The Islamists are hoping to gain power through political accommodation rather than through balloting. Kofi Annan‘s plan of peace, ratified by the US and Europe, plants the seed for merging the regime with the SNC. This kind of heavy-handed interference sheds a bad light on Erdogan and his government.
The pressure Erdogan and the SNC are exerting are two-fold. They want the FSA to follow their lead and seek a political solution when the Syrian street is fighting for survival against a ruthless ruler and they want the FSA leadership, represented by Col. Riad al-Asa’ad and Col. Ahmad Hijazi, to be dissolved in favor of a more willing and subservient leadership in the form of Gen. Mustapha al-Sheikh. The problem is the FSA leadership enjoys too much popularity inside Syria, which may derail Erdogan‘s long term plans of planting his Islamists to rule.
The FSA does not have any Islamist elements amongst its ranks because it would have never reached this leadership position under any Assad army.
How did the FSA respond to this pressure? In a very astute way.
First, a new three-star General named Adnan al-Ahmad defected few days ago to join the FSA; but unlike the one-star General Mustapha al-Sheikh, al-Ahmad is asking for military intervention. This move by the FSA turns the tables on Erdogan because this is the highest ranking officer yet to oppose the Erdogan plans and because it keeps the FSA‘s popularity intact inside Syria.
The other astute move the Free Syrian Army achieved was to create Military Councils inside Syria in every major city or town that has been hit hard by the Assad army. These councils were announced just two days ago and their intended purpose is to free the FSA from any outside pressures or other councils the SNC may have planned.
The FSA is the legitimate defender of Syria‘s interests. It has developed organically as a result of difficult circumstances rather than being manufactured by outside foreign governments. Although it is a paramilitary organization fighting a guerilla warfare, a new civilian leadership is forming inside Syria to be supported by the FSA as the legitimate new government. These civilians happen also to be doctors, lawyers, smugglers, and bureaucrats who have supported the Revolution by providing the FSA with services and intelligence information to better fight the Assad regime.
Erdogan may think he is the kingmaker but the real king is the Syrian street fighting Assad, protecting civilians, arming rebels, feeding families, operating on the injured, and consoling mothers.