Al-Jabha a-Shamiya, the largest rebel coalition in the group the Aleppo Victory Army, announced the dissolution of its security forces on Monday following a month of popular unrest and demonstrations against Aleppo’s rebel leadership, citing the security services abuses amidst battlefield losses in the province.
“I think this was the right decision, and it should have been made a long time ago,” says al-Jabha a-Shamiya spokeswoman Misa Mahmoud.
In a candid interview with Syria Direct’s Yaman Museli, the spokeswoman acknowledged “the general failure of these security services as certain factions dominated and nepotism had spread.”
Q: Why did al-Jabha a-Shamiya decide to dissolve its security services at this time?
Appeals and protests from opposition activists in Aleppo for the unification of operations between the rebel factions have intensified. In the last month, there were many protests calling for the resignation of rebel leadership and closing of their ranks. Additionally, there was the general failure of these security services as certain factions dominated and nepotism had spread.
All this on top of the ongoing battle in the southern and northern Aleppo countryside. It was imperative that so many fighters were sent to the battlefield. So it was better to dissolve the security services rather than trying to hold them accountable and searching for a replacement later, because at this moment we are fighting both the regime and the Islamic State.
Q: What alternatives are there to these security services?
Currently there isn’t an alternative. What there is are individual groups, each accountable to a different faction—as for neutral security services, there are none. In my opinion, the alternative would be to re-establish new security services, working to enforce explicit laws, far away from all the different parties, with equality between workers, and the wrongdoer getting what they deserve.
Q: What is to blame for the failure of the security services in Aleppo?
This decision only applies to al-Jabha a-Shamiya’s security services, there are other groups connected to Nusra and other groups still operating. Of course, the cause for the failure is the security service’s abuses, the proliferation of nepotism and bribes, and arbitrary arrests, in addition to the failure of the administration of Aleppo neighborhoods, most notably in the Bab al-Salama crossing, where officials were taking bribes to let people into Turkey. There were also the foreign agendas that the groups are subject to [i.e. a group receiving Saudi funding and directives], which forces people to avoid areas under their control.
I think this was the right decision, and it should have been made a long time ago, because the security services are no long impartial while nepotism and corruption has become widespread. The people of Aleppo want neutral security services, not those accountable to one faction or another.