The leader of the Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham, Abu Muhammad al-Jolani, made an appearance on Sunday in a restaurant in Idleb, similar to the appearances he has been making in recent weeks.
People close to Tahrir al-Sham published documentation and pictures of Jolani during his visit to a popular restaurant specialized in beans and chickpeas in Idleb, as he listened to the concerns of civilians and helped to prepare food.
On Saturday, Jolani appeared in a camp in northern Syria with a number of companions. He was seen holding a pen and a notebook and writing down the requests of the people.
The appearance of Jolani in the restaurant engendered mixed responses in the Syrian north. Tahrir al-Sham figure, Mathhar al-Ways, considered the step Jolani took as positive and said that Tahrir al-Sham’s leaders should interact with the people and listen to their concerns, and that this should become the norm.
Other people made fun of the pictures. Researcher Ahmed Abazid published an image of Jolani selling beans along with the comment: “The right man in the right place.”
The leader of the al-Mu’tasim division of the Syrian National Army, al-Faruq Abu Bakr considered that Jolani is the enemy of the revolution as he made his soldiers and supporters believe that he is combatting anti-Islam countries and that he was in hiding for fear of being targeted by the enemies of jihad and Sharia.
Abu Bakr asked, “What has changed; is it because [Jolani] is no longer considered a threat to those countries, or are the masks off and all that is left is the very last scene?”
In recent years, during his transition from the leadership of the al-Nusra Front that was affiliated with al-Qaeda to the Fatah al-Sham Front, up to his current leadership of Tahrir al-Sham, the appearances of Jolani had been limited to a few media interviews to talk about the latest field and military developments.
However, over the past two months, Jolani has become much more active — not only seen during military affairs, but also when it comes to his meetings with civil and medical figures in northern Syrian.
Analysts believe that Jolani’s recent moves and increased activity come in light of the Tahrir al-Sham realizing that its popularity has taken a dive, especially after the recent battles in Idleb, in which the Front appeared weak and did not effectively defend the areas it controlled, according to Islamic groups researcher, Abbas Sharifa.
This article was translated and edited by The Syrian Observer. The Syrian Observer has not verified the content of this story. Responsibility for the information and views set out in this article lies entirely with the author.