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Syrian opposition to discuss post-regime era | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Beirut, Asharq Al-Awsat- In line with the Arab League’s call on Syrian opposition groups to unify their ranks, The Syrian National Council’s [SNC] is set to hold a national conference in preparation for the post-Assad stage in Syria. The group has unveiled a plan for a “transitional phase” lasting up to 18 months when President Bashar al-Assad is toppled.

SNC’s member Muhammad Sarmini said that although the Syrian opposition groups “differ over details, they are united in seeking one basic goal, namely to overthrow the regime that persists in killing its citizens.” He told Asharq Al-Awsat that the national conference will be held in Cairo next week after a preparatory committee was formed that includes representatives of all opposition political forces and independent figures. “The call for this conference came in coordination with the Arab League, which, in its initiative on Syria, called for the unification of the opposition ranks; and we have all agreed to unify our efforts to bring the Syrian regime down.” Sarmini told Asharq Al-Awsat.

Asked if holding the national conference means that all the groups will reach a comprehensive agreement, Sarmini said these moves “denote that efforts are being exerted by all stripes of the opposition to close their ranks; we have reached an important phase in this regard.”

Noting that the most important differences among the opposition groups are focused on rejection of foreign intervention and on ways of overthrowing the regime, Sarmini dismissed what is called the “domestic opposition” and “the opposition abroad,” He added that “The SNC combines the domestic opposition and the opposition abroad. Talk of the separation of the two branches of the opposition is an attempt by the Syrian regime to portray the situation as though there was a rift within the opposition.”

Asked about the most important potential outcome of the national conference, Sarmini said that the working document that the conferees will put forward will focus on articulating “a political vision for the forthcoming phase” and on “a road map for the transitional phase.” It is scheduled that the conference will issue a special memorandum relating to “the post-Syrian regime phase.” the memorandum will be referred to the Arab ministerial council to work out a program and controls for managing the transitional period with the participation of the various Syrian political forces.

In a related development, the SNC issued a statement denying reports by certain media outlets, which said that Dr Burhan Ghalioun requested British Foreign Secretary William Hague to intercede with the Turkish authorities to halt the operations being carried out by the Free Syrian Army. Sarmini affirmed to Asharq Al-Awsat that the talks between Hague and Ghalioun focused on ways of offering aid to protect civilians through all means as well as material and logistical support. In its statement, the SNC stressed its pride in the heroic Free Syrian Army officers and soldiers who refused to obey the regime’s orders to kill their brethren and citizens, who are demanding freedom, and decided to side with the ranks of the people and the revolutionaries.

Discussing the relationship between the SNC and the Free Syrian Army and whether there is any coordination between them, particularly after the latter’s announcement of the formation of a military council, Sarmini told Asharq Al-Awsat, “There are constant contacts between the two, but there is no clear line of the nature of the relationship.” Contacts between the two parties continue to reach a stage leading to a clear and common plan. He added: “In a situation like the one we are facing, where the regime continues to kill its people, it is inevitable to find a national tool to defend the people. The action of the Free Syrian Army is in keeping with the principle of protecting civilians to limit as much as possible the killing of more people day after day. The existence of the Syrian Free Army and completion of its mission is necessary, particularly because it constitutes the nucleus of the future national Syrian army.”