Why does Hayat Tahrir al-Sham support union work in Idlib?
In early May 2022, the Syrian Salvation Government (SSG) in Idlib announced the establishment of the Free Syrian Teachers Syndicate. Earlier, in mid-April 2022, SSG had announced the creation of the Peasants' Union. Meanwhile, the Government held meetings with the Syndicates of Pharmacists, Economists, and the Engineers as well.
The (SSG), however, is not an independent body or authority in Idlib to be dealt with, because since its formation at the end of 2017, it has been closely linked to Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, which originally founded such a government to be a civilian cover for managing the region.
Since its establishment, the SSG has also worked on receiving CVs of the "qualified persons in the liberated areas". This aims, according to the government, at recruiting them in its ministries, which not only guarantees greater public acceptance for HTS in its areas of control, but also it provides a civilian cover to it over there; especially after the Interim Government's institutions and agencies were excluded from Idlib.
HTS faced great challenges after a large number of qualified persons avoided joining the institutions of the Salvation Government. Tahrir al-Sham also experienced another challenge, which is the popular rejection after it tried to subjugate the local civil councils by choosing people loyal to it or at least neutral individuals to join these councils.
However, many competent persons later found themselves outside the SSG-led institutions, in addition to the abandonment of the traditional opposition institutions after these institutions left the HTS-controlled areas in Idlib. This prompted these qualified persons to cluster in independent unions and bodies such as the Free Lawyers Syndicate in Syria. At that point, the SSG rushed to issue official decisions to form unions and civil bodies. It also forced independent unions to make changes and accept recruiting specific persons who ultimately serve the HTS interests.
Such an explicit and great focus by the HTS to support the establishment of unions, federations and bodies appears to be an opportunity to complete and strengthen its control over the civil institutions in the region. This, in fact, gives Tahrh al-Sahm greater legitimacy, and consequently it will be able to benefit from any grants or projects that such unions or bodies implement. HTS often finds that dealing with individual or group objections to its decisions is a very difficult mission. Therefore, it seeks to bring such persons to be parts of the civil institutions that are bound by internal systems formulated by Tahrir al-Sham itself and under the leadership of persons are directly linked to it. As such, any efforts of the civil movement opposing Tahrir al-Sham would be easily hampered and this, of course, makes the task of managing the region much easier as for Tahrir al-Sham.