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Syria: differences within Opposition emerge | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Beirut, Asharq Al-Awsat- In the midst of the intensifying crisis in Syria, activist inside the country are becoming increasingly critical of opposition national council based outside of Syria.

These criticisms have recently risen in light of reported differences within the opposition on certain issues. One such difference is related to the request for international intervention and protection of civilians in the wake of the massacres that took place recently that led to more than 250 killed civilians and military defectors from the regime.

Representatives of the revolutionary councils inside Syria argue that “the actions of the Syrian National Council have not risen to the level of revolutionary activism. The council has so far not demonstrated that it can respond to the demands of the revolutionaries who are facing the killing machine with their bare chests”.

In a statement to Asharq Al-Awsat, Abu-Ghazi al-Hamawi, member of the Council of Hamah’s Revolutionaries, affirmed that “the revolutionaries fault the national council for being unable so far to unify its vision on how it should act regarding the massacres to which civilians are being subjected in all the regions of Syria. One part of this council calls for the peacefulness of the revolution and another part is calling for international protection and international military intervention”.

Al-Hamawi added: “What is amazing is that some members of the opposition (outside the country) continue to insist on the peaceful nature of the revolution although those that are assaulting the unarmed revolutionaries with live gunfire, rockets, and tank projectiles do not have an iota of honor or human decency. How can anyone talk about a peaceful revolution in the middle of the massacres that are being committed in Homs, Hamah, and Idlib?” He went on to emphasize that “this regime will not fall except through Arab or Turkish or international military intervention. This regime that took power by force will only leave by force. This is particularly true since it does not attach any importance to the revolution and considers its martyrs as terrorists”. Abu-Ghazi added: “The national council should make up its mind and unify its stand. If it considers itself as the true representative of the revolutionaries, it should go to the Security Council immediately and request international intervention to protect the civilian population. This regime is criminal; it is resorting to the scorched earth policy. It has no qualms about shelling civilians with tanks and killing women and children. It has even beheaded a sheikh and placed his head on the door of the mosque where he leads worshippers in prayer. This nightmare should end as soon as possible”.

Member of the Syrian National Council Umar Idilbi said that he understands the complaints of the revolutionaries. He pointed out that “when the general body of the national council that consists of no less than 200 members holds a meeting, it can only meet in a hotel”. Idilbi affirmed to Asharq Al-Awsat that “the national council bears the political responsibility in total patriotic spirit. It understands the criticism leveled against it and the reasons for this criticism; the internal situation is imposing a lot of pressure”.

Idilbi added: “The national council took major steps in the past 24 hours by pressuring the international community and the Arab League and briefing them on the barbaric crimes and mass killings that the Syrian regime perpetrated in Jabal al-Zawiyah. The council also sent messages to the representatives of the 15 member states of the Security Council. The council called on them to expedite the convening of an emergency UNSC session to discuss these massacres and take an urgent decision to confront the serious conditions facing the Syrian people”. Idilbi went on to say that “the role of the Syrian National Council is primarily political and to provide relief aid in support of the revolution. This is certainly what the national council is doing”.

Umar Idilbi said that the council “invited the Syrian communities in the whole world to stage demonstrations in condemnation of the crimes that the forces of the regime are committing and to launch political, media, and relief aid campaigns in support of the revolutionaries inside the country and to put pressure on the regime”.

Answering a question on the resentment of the revolutionaries against the current struggle for power by the opposition outside the country even before the regime falls and even without consulting those that are offering the martyrs, Idilbi replied: “This resentment is justified. It is true that I am one of the members of the national council but I represent the revolutionary activism inside the council. I do not deny that some political sides in the council practiced, unfortunately, some political heresies for some time. The conference that was held in Tunis was marred by some political differences. Eventually, however, everyone rose above the minor matters and regained a high spirit of responsibility. This ensured the success of the conference and the approval of a political program that responds to all the demands of the revolutionaries without exception”. Idilbi affirmed “the coming days will witness the national council’s total response to the demands of the revolutionaries after forming its organizational structure”. Idilbi announced that he is “one of the revolutionaries” and that he was faithful in conveying their viewpoints to the national council. “For the sake of honesty, the conference in Tunis responded to all the demands outlined in the letters of the revolutionaries,” he said.