The Turkish authorities ordered the closure of an office of the opposition Syrian National Coalition (SOC) in the capital, Ankara, without giving explanations for the decisions.
The story was broken by the Lebanese Website Al-Modon. SOC has yet to comment on the news.
According to Al-Modon, the Syrian National Coalition closed its office in Ankara in response to a Turkish request, which many put in the context of the new policies of the Turkish government regarding the Syrian file.
Two Syrian analysts who closely follow the opposition inter politics shed light on the new move
France-based Akeel Hussein, a journalist and political observer, does not believe the move was politically motivated.
“I believe the story has to do with the original role of the office,” Hussein told The Syrian Observer.
The SOC Ankara office was basically the venue for the Turkish-Syrian Joint (TSJC) Committee, which was formed at the initiative of SOC and the Turkish Ministry of Interior. Its goal was to follow up on the affairs of Syrian refugees in Turkey and address their situation. It was formed in 2019.
On the Turkish side, the committee includes the Turkish deputy interior minister, head of the Immigration Department, and several senior officials in the ministry. It is supervised on the Syrian side by the head of the coalition, and it includes officials of the relevant files in the coalition.
Hussein said that the decision to close the Ankara office was a direct result of the SOC’s innerpolitics.
“It [closing the office] came as a compromise between two conflicting blocs within the SOC, a few days after a decision was taken to close
the coalition’s embassy in Turkey and end the assignment of Nazir al-Hakim, who is close to the Muslim Brotherhood, as ambassador to Ankara.”
It seems that the last decision did not satisfy Mr. Nazir al-Hakim and his bloc, so he launched a counter-attack on what he called “corruption” in the TSJC, which is affiliated with the rival bloc, to block any efforts to have the Ankara office substitute for the coalition embassy in the Turkish capital.
“The uproar that was raised in the media about TSJC,” Hussein explained, “put it back in the spotlight by raising some accusations that had previously been leveled against its officials. This could have contributed to encourage the Turkish government to end its work, especially with the clear shift in the government’s way of dealing with the presence of Syrian refugees in Turkey.”
Firas Allawi, another France-based close observer of the inner politics of the Syrian opposition, said Ankara has become under pressure in its relations with SOC.
“SOC continues to lose popularity among the Syrians, while Ankara is trying to improve its relations with UAE, Saudi Arabia, and Egypt. These countries have a tense relationship with influential figures in the SOC,” Allawi told The Observer.
“Turkey is experiencing certain pressure for its continuous support to the SOC,” Allawi added. “However, there is another factor – a financial one. SOC is receiving now less support than it used to and the expenses of running an office in Ankara that does not play a role is an extra burden.”
However, the step can only be linked to the reform measure which is led by Salem al-Meslet, the SOC president. Meslet, according to Allawi, promised to move most SOC activities inside Syria.
As such,” Allawi explained, “the next move will be moving a few offices into the city of Azaz in Syria, or maybe to Reyhanli, the Turkish city at the Syrian border.”
This article was 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.