Turkish officials at Marea Hospital recently dismissed a Syrian cardiologist, Dr. Othman Hajjawi, in an incident which demonstrates the extent of Turkey’s influence over northern Syria and its civilian institutions. In this report, Syrians for Truth and Justice (STJ) highlights a few cases of the arbitrary dismissals of Syrian employees by Turkish-run administrations to shed light on the corruption of institutions in northwestern and eastern Syria.
After occupying parts of northern Syria following Operation Euphrates Shield in 2016, Turkey took control of key security, service, and medical institutions in the region by giving key positions to Turkish citizens and Syrians loyal to Turkey, several of whom were given Turkish nationalities after 2011. Moreover, the Turkish government linked the Syrian institutions with its authorities in Antakya/Hatay, Kilis, Urfa, and other Turkish provinces.
On 6 August 2021, Erol Tekçe, the head doctor of Marea Hospital, arbitrarily dismissed Syrian doctor Othman Hajjawi after Hajjawi supported a Syrian colleague who had a dispute with a Turkish nurse. Hajjawi’s firing provoked an angry public response, and when the Syrian Interim Government refused to take action, raised questions about the effectiveness of the Interim Government’s control over the region.
The Syrian areas occupied by Turkey are administratively subordinated to adjacent Turkish border provinces — Recep Soytürk, governor/wali of Kilis controls the Euphrates Shield area, Rahmi Doğan governor/wali of Antakya/Hatay controls the Olive Branch area, and Abdullah Erin governor/wali of Urfa controls Peace Spring area.
The community held several demonstrations demanding the reversal of Dr. Hajjawi’s dismissal decision; however, the Turkish authorities did not retract their decision and instead prevented Hajjawi from practicing medicine in all areas under their control in northwestern and eastern Syria.