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Syrian opposition forms special committee, unites ranks, prepares for transition | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Beirut, Asharq Al-Awsat – Syrian opposition figures at home and abroad have agreed a process to form a new representative body for the Syrian opposition, which will be called the “Committee of the Wise”, with the objective of uniting all Syrian opposition factions in preparation for managing the transitional stage.

This committee will reportedly be comprised of between 12 and 15 prominent opposition figures, including Burhan Ghalioun, Abdel Hamid Darwish, Michel Kilo, Aref Dalila, Hussein al-Odat, Aslan Abdelkarim, Bishop Espiridon, Ali Sadr al-Din al-Bayanuni, Haitham al-Maleh and Deraa cleric Sheikh Ahmad al-Sayasina, amongst others.

Speaking exclusively to Asharq Al-Awsat, “Committee of the Wise” member, Michel Kilo stressed that “the project to form this committee is a serious one, and it was previously proposed by former Syrian National Council [SNC] chairman Burhan Ghalioun. This committee will be made up of between 12 and 15 opposition figures.”

He added “this committee will be tasked with managing everything regarding the transitional period, in order to bridge the gap between the different opposition factions, in preparation for a transition to democracy.”

The Syrian opposition figure stressed that “the first condition for members of this committee is that they do not have ambitions to occupy political office, and that when they finish their task they will all return to their homes.”

Answering a question as to whether this committee will include any figures with ties to the Damascus government, Kilo told Asharq Al-Awsat that “as far as I know, nobody amongst the proposed names has any ties to the regime. We are working to choose opposition, neutral and independent figures who are not with the [Syrian] regimes, and this includes religious figures as well.”

Kilo denied that the “Committee of the Wise” is set to hold its first meeting on Wednesday in Cairo, before the expanded Syrian opposition meeting that is set to take place in Doha on 17 October. The Syrian opposition figure asserted that “the Committee of the Wise will meet soon, but not on Wednesday, so that it will be possible for members who are present in the [Syrian] interior, like Aref Dalila, to attend the meeting in order to ensure that all members can attend and we can put forward our work program.”

He also stressed that “the Egyptian Foreign Ministry has no connection whatsoever with the formation of this committee.”

For his part, a leading member of the SNC, speaking to Asharq Al-Awsat on the condition of anonymity, revealed that “the idea of forming a Committee of the Wise has been under consideration for the past months. Dr. Burhan Ghalioun has been considering this idea since August 2011, and the focus was on choosing wise national figures that will satisfy both the Syrian people and the entire spectrum of the Syrian opposition.”

The SNC official added “the figures that have been agreed upon are well-known to the Syrian street for their fairness, and they do not have personal political ambitions. Their role will be essential in putting forward ideas and proposals for the period following the ouster of the Syrian regime.”

The Syrian opposition figure also told Asharq Al-Awsat that “the committee will pave the way for the formation of a political democratic system that will meet the aspirations and dreams of the Syrian people. This system must also meet the minimum requirements in terms of the struggle and blood that have been sacrificed for a new Syria, which will be different from Syria under dictatorship.”