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FSA commander rejects national salvation project | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Beirut, Asharq Al-Awsat – Elements of the Free Syrian Army (FSA) operating on the ground in Syria have proposed “a national salvation project” for the transitional phase, calling for the establishment of “a supreme defense council”, which will in turn establish a “presidential council consisting of six military and political figures to administer the transitional phase after the fall of President Bashar al-Assad”.

However, FSA Commander Colonel Riyad al-Asaad, who is not present inside Syria, rejected this proposal saying “it distorts the image of the FSA, which is fighting to distance the military from power.”

Al-Asaad told Asharq Al-Awsat: “I do not know who issued this [proposal] but we do not accept it in the slightest. Whoever proposed this plan is operating outside the FSA.” He added that the transitional stage should not be led by military figures, and that the transitional government should be made up of politicians. He said: “The military are the protectors of the transitional government and the transitional stage.”

For his part, Najib al-Ghadban, a member of the Syrian National Council’s [SNC] secretariat general, stated that this proposal has not been completely rejected, but the issue is now at the stage of consultations and preparations to reach a final formula regarding the transitional government.

He told Asharq Al-Awsat: “This proposal might include the establishment of (a national security council) made up of military figures, but operating under the transitional government’s supervision.” He added: “We are seriously thinking about all the requirements of the transitional stage, particularly the establishment of the government, but positions are not final and clear so far.”

Regarding the SNC’s talks with the FSA, particularly in light of the disagreement between FSA Commander Al-Asaad and the head of its military council, General Mustafa al-Sheikh, Al-Ghadban said: “We are not interfering in the disagreement.” He pointed out that there is a liaison office that is following up the issue between the two sides, and the SNC’s main goal is to unite the military regiments’ ranks and their leadership both inside Syria and abroad.

In its statement issued yesterday, the joint command of the FSA operating on the ground within Syria called “for a national salvation project that meets all the revolution’s requirements”, and also called for the establishment of a “supreme defense council” whose “primary task will be the establishment of a presidential council consisting of six military and political figures to administer the transitional phase.” The FSA leadership within Syria added that the military council would incorporate “all commanders of military councils in Syrian cities and governorates, senior dissident officers, and officers participating in the revolution.”

The joint command added in its statement that the presidential council’s tasks would include “the proposal of laws to be put before a referendum, the restructuring of the security and military establishments on a national basis, and the drawing up of solutions for the military and security establishments to absorb civilians who have taken up arms during the revolution.” The command also proposed “the establishment of the Supreme National Council for the Protection of the Syrian Revolution” which would be “a parliamentary establishment monitoring the work of executive bodies.”

The statement also underlined the need for the SNC and all political forces, nationalist figures, the Syrian Revolution General Commission, coordinating forces, revolutionary movements, and the FSA to participate “in creating new institutions.” It asserted that the proposed project “would achieve a safe and balanced transitional phase” and expressed its hope that this would form “a roadmap acceptable to all parties on the route to liberation, independence, and the building of a new Syria.” It added that “any government that is formed here or there will not see daylight and will not have any national or revolutionary legitimacy if it does not meet the revolution’s demands in full and without equivocation. It will not have the approval of the joint command (of the FSA operating on the ground within Syria), and all the revolutionary forces active on the ground.”