Damascus, Syria (2:26 AM) – A mere few weeks following the Syrian imposed reconciliation deal that forcefully removed the insurgents from their last strongholds of Qaboun, Barzeh, and Tishreen inside Damascus, disgruntled rebels based in the nearby Harasta opened up talks with the Syrian government to negotiate a potential reconciliation deal.
Similar to previous agreements, the deal would allow those who want to settle their status with the Syrian government to lay down their arms and return to their civilian life while transporting those unwilling to reconcile and make peace to the jihadist-dominated Idlib province.
Should the rebels- demoralized and fatigued by the pitiful infighting taking over East Ghouta between Qatar-backed Faylaq ar-Rahman and Saudi-backed Jaish al-Islam – agree to hand over Harasta to the Syrian Arab Army, the Damascus-Homs Highway will be completely secured again and re-opened for the first time in over three years.
It remains unknown whether the recent Saudi-Qatari diplomatic rift has anything to do with the ongoing Ghouta crisis. However, it is important to note that Harasta is predominantly held by Ahrar al-Sham and represents the faction’s main Damascus stronghold. The rebel group is believed to have extensive ties to Qatar and its regional ally Turkey which have for long sponsored Muslim Brotherhood affiliated groups like Faylaq ar-Rahman inside the war torn country.
Ahrar al-Sham giving up control of Harasta in favor of the Syrian government is Jaish al-Islam’s biggest nightmare as it would entail setting the city of Douma (Jaish al-Islam’s largest stronghold in Syria) up for full virtual siege within Eastern Ghouta totally crippling the Saudi-aligned faction that is already struggling to keep its eastern fronts together against the non-stop barrage of government assaults near Nashabiya and Hawsh al-Dawahira amidst the brutal infighting taking place in the central Ghouta towns of Hawsh al-Ash’ari and Erbeen.
This potential development threatens to bolster the Qatari hold of the Syrian insurgency at the stake of the already weakened and shaken Saudi influence on the “Syrian” rebellion. What this translates to in the international diplomatic arena between the two Persian Gulf countries is yet to be seen.