Analysis: Uniting the Syrian Opposition | The Components of the National Army and the Implications of the Unification

This analysis mainly focuses on the unification of all Syrian opposition under the Syrian Interim Government and gives policy recommendations.

After eight years of war, the Syrian opposition announced that all armed groups united under the command of the Syrian Interim Government’s Defense Ministry and joined forces under the banner of the National Army. This announcement marks a milestone in the journey of the Syrian opposition which united ranks and is a product of a 3-year process that commenced with the start of the Operation Euphrates Shield. With the increasing role of Turkey as the sole backer of the Syrian opposition and following Turkish pressure, the remaining factions in Idlib, Afrin, and northern Aleppo came together. However, the announcement in and of itself does not guarantee the unity of the Syrian opposition. Yet and despite the fact that many structural and environmental obstacles remain, the announcement may provide new opportunities for the actors involved in the Syrian War. Most notably, the announcement of the unification also comes with an essential change within the Syrian opposition. For the first time, the Syrian Interim Government formed by the Syrian National Coalition has managed take the armed opposition under its command.. With this step, the political opposition for the first time may be able to proclaim itself the representative of the entire Syrian opposition. The declaration of the unification comes ahead of the possible Turkish operation against the YPG/SDF, during the ongoing fragile ceasefire in Idlib, and ahead of the start of the deliberations of the constitutional committee. This analysis is based upon firsthand research and interviews with members of the armed and political opposition.

In this article