Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) Positive Response to initiative

Country/entity
Syria
Region
Middle East and North Africa
Agreement name
Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) Positive Response to initiative
Date
19/07/2017
Agreement status
Unilateral document
Agreement/conflict level
Intrastate/local conflict (Syrian Conflicts (1948 - ) (1976 - 2005) (2011 - )
The agreements relate to three different conflict contexts. Israel-Syria and Syria-Lebanon. The Syrian-Israeli conflict was a key factor for the Syrian intervention during the Lebanese Civil War, with Syrian-backed Palestinian Liberation Army units intervened in 1976 against the Palestinian/Leftist militias. Following a massacre at Tel al-Zaatar that year, Syria was forced to accept a ceasefire at a meeting of the Arab League. However, the Arab League also mandated an Arab Deterrence Force, consisting of mostly Syrian soldiers with token contributions from other Arab League states, thus further legitimizing the Syrian presence in Lebanon. During a second bout of fighting that began in 1989, caused by the formation of rival Lebanese regimes in East and West Beirut, the Syrian-backed regime won and in 1991 the ‘Treaty of Brotherhood, Cooperation and Coordination’ was signed to legalize the Syrian occupation as a means to ensure the security of Syria. Syrian forces were forced to withdraw in 2005 following possible involvement in the assassination of Lebanon’s President Hariri.

Syria-internal. In 2011, domestic upheaval following a wave of protests across the Arab World soon led to violent repression of protestors by Syrian government troops. The violence progressed steadily and by July 2011 the Free Syrian Army (FSA) was formed consisting of defected military units and new recruits. The FSA and rebel umbrella group known as the Syrian National Council represented the first attempt at coordinating rebel factions in late 2011. However, a steady influx of foreign fighters and increased sectarianism radicalised opposition groups, which relied on foreign funding. The nature of the conflict changed drastically in late 2013 as infighting among the opposition groups increased. One of the more significant developments was the split between the al-Qaeda outfits the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, ISIS), and Jabhat al-Nusra in early 2014 in addition to the intensified targeting of other rebel factions by ISIS fighters in particular, including the Kurdish Peshmerga, the FSA and other jihadist outfits. Since the summer of 2014, the conflict was further internationalized when ISIS announced the formation of an Islamic state eroding the state line between Iraq and Syria and also in mid-2015 when Russian forces intervened on behalf of the Bashar al-Assad government in Damascus.

Syrian Conflicts (1948 - ) (1976 - 2005) (2011 - ) )
Stage
Ceasefire/related (Related)
Conflict nature
Inter-group
Peace process
138: Syrian Local Agreements
Parties
Harikat Tahrir al-Sham; Harikat Ahrar al-Sham.
Third parties
Description
Statement issued as part of a sequence of statements responding to an initiative to end the ongoing conflict between Harikat Tahrir al-Sham and Harikat Ahrar al-Sham in Idlib. Statement commits to ceasefire in response to focusing energy elsewhere.

Agreement document
SY_170719_HTS Positive Response to pre-negotiation agreement_EN.pdf []

Agreement document (original language)
SY_170719_HTS Positive Response to pre-negotiation agreement_AR.pdf []

Local agreement properties

Process type
Informal but persistent process
Explain rationale
-> Local issues only; no external support mechanism; culture of signing
There is no formally established mechanism to support the negotiation between Salafi armed groups. Moreover, this agreement cannot be linked to the national peace process. Indeed, both groups have a Salafist ideology; they oppose the rule of Bashar al-Assad in Syria and reject the idea of a national negotiation to solve the conflict. Yet, it seems that both signing parties choose to solve daily pragmatic issues related to their armed struggle through agreements. Although one cannot speak of a “culture” of singing peace agreements, the parties are involved (in a non-proactive and non-conscious way) in a persistent practice of signing local agreements.
Is there a documented link to a national peace process?
No
Link to national process: articulated rationale
No link to the national peace process in Syria is mentioned in the agreement, neither it can be inferred from further research. First, the agreement does not involve local governance actors; and the signing parties themselves are not official state representative. Second, all parties to the agreement reject the national peace process, as it would maintain Bashar al-Assad and the Syrian government in power. Yet, the agreement is related to multiple local level processes in Idlib governorate in July 2017. The agreement was signed for the purpose of "preserv[ing] remaining energies and land to fight our enemies."
Name of Locale
NA
Nature Of Locale
Region
GPS Lat/Long (DD)
35.733345, 36.699925
Participant type
Local armed group
Mediator, facilitator or similar
Mediator or similar referred to
Mediator (references)
The initiative of the mediation was launched by three clerics: Sheikh Abu Mohammed al-Sadiq, Sheikh Abdul Razzaq al-Mahdi, and Sheikh Abu Hamza al-Masri.
Type of mediator/facilitator/similar
Domestic religious organisation/leader or other elder

Local agreement issues

Ritual/prayer and process (including use of scripture)
Page 1, In the name of Allah, the Beneficial, the Merciful

Page 1, “So fear Allah, and keep straight the relations between yourselves: Obey Allah and His Messenger, if ye do believe”
Grievance List
The agreement addresses the grievances of two Salafi-jihadi groups that lost a number of men during clashes for the control of villages in Idlib governorate.
Cattle rustling/banditry
No specific mention.
Social cover
No specific mention.

The University of Edinburgh