FSA media and political coordinator, Louay Miqdad, told Asharq Al-Awsat that “the main reason which prompted the brigades to take this step was the dithering of the international community which–for the brigades–has turned into despair of the opposition themselves.”
Thirteen Islamist opposition military groups in Aleppo, including Al-Nusra Front, Liwaa Al-Tawhid, Ahrara Al-Sham Movement and Liwaa Al-Ansar, announced on Tuesday that they had withdrawn their recognition of the National Coalition of the Revolution Forces and Syrian Opposition.
Political official of the Liwaa Al-Tawhid, Abdelaziz Salamah, in a video released on You Tube, called on all military groups to “unite within an Islamic framework based on Sharia rule and using Sharia as the only source of legislation.” He added that “the right to represent a party belongs to those who share its problems and sacrifices.”
The groups said “all political bodies established outside [Syria] without consulting those inside the country, do not represent it and it does not recognize them, and therefore, the coalition and the interim government, led by Ahmed Tuma, do not represent them.”
Yasser Al-Najjar, member of the higher council of the revolution command, told Asharq al-Awsat that “this statement is a direct response to the decision by the coalition to go to Geneva II and meddle with critical issues without consulting the groups within Syria and the real revolution forces.” Najjar added that “the statement by coalition president, Ahmed Al-Jarba, that it was possible for the opposition to go negotiations with no prior conditions, without consulting the fighting brigades, has angered those inside Syria because the revolution forces considered the statement as a concession by those outside Syria who support the revolution.”
Najjar said “the forces who signed the statement think any negotiations must be on the basis of the transfer of authority, not reproducing it in a different form.” He added that “any side who gives concessions will lose legitimacy and will no longer be recognized by the Syrians.” He also said “the Syrian people have the right to make Islam the source of legislation according to the fact that the majority of people are Sunni Muslims.”
However, spokesman of the Higher Military Command Council of the Syrian opposition, Col. Qasim Sa’adedine, told Asharq Al-Awsat that the position of these groups was “just a political stance which had no influence on the ground,” and that it would not affect the fighting units in Aleppo.
The groups who signed the statement are the most powerful military groups in the Aleppo area. Their position comes at a time when efforts are being made by the Syrian opposition to mobilize international support to topple the Assad regime. This has prompted member of the political bureau of the coalition Ahmed Ramadan to question the timing of the statement, and the political party behind it.
Ramadan told Asharq Al-Awsat that “at a time when the coalition is fighting a diplomatic battle in New York to mobilize international support for the Syrian issue, some parties call for the withdrawal of its legitimacy.” He accused the Muslim Brotherhood of being behind the statement without naming them. He said “there are well-known parties which controlled the coalition for nine month and led it to failure, who are today standing behind the statement which aims to cause the failure of the coalition.” It is worth noting that the Liwaa Al-Tawhid, one of the main military groups which signed the statement to withdraw legitimacy from the coalition, is known for its close relationship to the Muslim Brotherhood.
Ramadan added that “the statement does not represent the majority of the military revolutionary forces in Aleppo which come under the Higher Military Council of the FSA,” adding that “no one has the right to withdraw legitimacy from the military umbrella of the revolution represented by the coalition, because the latter is not only an opposition, but a coalition of a number of political sides who represent the Syrian political constituent.”
Ramadan defended the prime minister of the interim government, Ahmed Tuma, saying “he is from the inside, and when he suffered in the Syrian regime’s prisons, those who are criticizing him now were part of the regime and did not know the meaning of opposition.”
Ramadan said “the coalition’s stance is firm regarding Geneva II and will not drop the demand for Assad to be removed,” adding that Jarba’s statement about the coalition’s readiness to participate in the conference was taken out of context, because the Syrian opposition could not accept any political resolution which did not include the removal of Assad and his ruling group.
In the meantime, more than 100 FSA officers, including the founder of FSA and its former commander Col. Riyad Sa’ad, and his deputy Col. Malik Al-Kurdi, called for the boycott of any conference in which Iran participated, in reference to Geneva II. They said “it was time for the international community to punish the Mullahs regime for its crimes in Syria.”
The signatories condemned “any dialogue with the criminal Assad regime and any conference which leads to other than the toppling of the current regime,” adding that “the Iranian regime presented a dangerous part of the problem and should not be allowed under any circumstances to be part of any conference about Syria.”