After trying period, Ahrar al-Sham infuses leadership with 'new blood'

A little over a year after an explosion rocked an Ahrar a-Sham meeting, killing the militia's leader along with 30 other members of their general leadership and consultative council, interim leader Sheikh Abu Jaber has decided not to seek another term. The move, Ahrar a-Sham spokesman Ahmad Quora Ali tells Syria Direct’s Ammar Hamou, was intended to “pump new blood into the leadership.”

Q: Muhannad al-Masri (Abu Yahya) was appointed to replace Sheikh Abu Jaber, who was the sheikh for a year. Is it the policy of Ahrar to replace their leadership? Is there an internally stipulated period for their leadership?

I must point out that the most important and ruling foundation of Ahrar is the shura [consultative] council, and what occurred was a practical application of this principal. Sheikh Abu Jaber refused to extend his term, preferring to pump new blood into the leadership. So a meeting of the shura council was held and Abu Yahya was chosen.

Q: Do you have a particular basis on which you choose your leadership?

Of course we have criterion, the most important being efficiency and reputation.

Q: Sheikh Abu Jaber described the period of his leadership as the hardest since Ahrar’s founding. What is the reason for that?

Sheikh Abu Jaber’s term was indeed the hardest period that the group has gone through, because it followed the incident in which our leadership was killed, which was a strong blow to the group, but thanks to God the group has been able to hold itself together, to overcome the crisis and strengthen itself anew. 

Ammar Hamou

Ammar Hammou is from Douma city in outer Damascus. He studied journalism at Damascus University and left Syria in 2011. Follow Ammar on Twitter: @Ammar_Hamou.

James Bowker

James Bowker graduated from Tufts University in 2013 with a double major in Arabic Language & Middle Eastern Studies. He has previously worked with the Council on International Educational Exchange (CIEE) study-abroad program and as a remote translator for the Article 25 Right to Health campaign.