First Published: 2012-11-04

 

Syrian opposition discusses UN initiative: Plans to shape government-in-exile emerge

 

Opposition Syrian National Council begins four-day meeting in Doha, where US will reportedly press for overhaul of coalition.

 

Middle East Online

Will Seif’s government turn against Sayda’s Council?

DOHA - The opposition Syrian National Council begins a four-day meeting Sunday in Doha, where the United States will reportedly press for an overhaul of the coalition aiming to topple President Bashar al-Assad.

Details have emerged of plans to reshape the opposition into a representative government-in-exile, after US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton charged that the SNC was not representative.

Washington is pressing for a makeover of the opposition, with long-time dissident Riad Seif reportedly touted as the potential head of a new government-in-exile dubbed the Syrian National Initiative.

Seif and about two dozen other leading opposition figures gathered in Amman on Thursday and came up with proposals for a new body to represent the disparate groups opposing Assad.

Among those in attendance were some SNC members, former premier Riad Hijab, who defected in August; Ali Sadreddin Bayanuni of the Muslim Brotherhood and Kurdish and tribal representatives, participants said.

Participants sought to quell concerns the overhaul is aimed at building an opposition that would be willing to negotiate with Assad.

"Assad and his entourage leaving power is a non-negotiable precondition for any dialogue aimed at finding a non-military solution, if that is still possible," they said in a statement.

The Amman meeting also supported "efforts underway to put in place a unified political body for the whole of the opposition," according to the statement.

Hijab's spokesman, Mohammed al-Otri, said the group was proposing "the creation of a new political organ of the opposition, representing all of its components."

He said the new body would include the 14 members of the SNC executive, three members of the Kurdish National Council, representatives of on-the-ground activists and fighters, longstanding dissidents and religious leaders.

"It remains to be decided whether this body will replace the SNC or will constitute a new coalition," Otri said, adding that the creation of the group "will certainly lead to the formation of a government" in exile.

In a separate statement, Bayanuni underlined the Brotherhood's support for "the idea of a political leadership to bring together the opposition" including the SNC.

But he said the Brotherhood supported maintaining the SNC, in which it holds significant influence, and "not replacing it with a new body."

The SNC lashed out on Friday at alleged US interference with the opposition, accusing Washington of undermining the revolt and "sowing the seeds of division" by seeking the overhaul.

Clinton has voiced frustration with the SNC, saying the exiled group was not representative of on-the-ground opposition forces and that it "can no longer be viewed as the visible leader of the opposition."

Washington later denied it was trying to dictate to the opposition, insisting it was simply seeking to ensure that more voices were heard.

While rebel fighters have been on the offensive on the ground, especially in northern Syria, the SNC has been on the defensive over a video posted on the Internet that appears to show opposition fighters beating and executing soldiers.

The SNC called for those responsible to be held accountable.

The meeting in Qatar, a key backer of the revolt in Syria, was originally due to take place on October 17 but postponed because of what an SNC official said was a flood of requests to join the group.

However, other SNC sources said the delay reflected deep internal tensions.

The SNC has emerged as the interlocutor of the international community since its creation around six months after the March 2011 start of the uprising which monitors say has cost more than 36,000 lives.

But divisions have dogged opposition ranks. Some groups -- unlike the SNC -- staunchly oppose foreign intervention and violent regime change.

 

Palestinians react to death of Peres

Syrian army retakes rebel-held Aleppo district

UN Libya envoy warns against ‘political impasse’

Morocco finally adopts Amazigh as official language

Saudi petition seeks 'full' rights for women

Kuwaiti court scraps petrol price hike

Iraq requests more US troops to take on IS in Mosul

Airstrikes hit hospitals in rebel-held Aleppo

Iran nuclear chief says not worried about Trump

Iranian, Italian ships hold manoeuvres in Strait of Hormuz

Gunmen kill three Egypt policemen, civilian in Sinai

Turkey says 32,000 coup suspects awaiting trial

Paris to host international meeting on Libya

Etihad plane in emergency landing in Abu Dhabi

Struggling Saudi Oger lays off 1,300 staff

Israel ex-PM to serve 27 months for graft

Syrian kids return to school in Manbij

World Bank releases $300 million for Syrian refugees in Jordan

Iranian FM in Ankara for Syria talks

Israeli ex-president Peres dies

Oil prices post marginal gains

Russia tries to strongarm US with Aleppo assault

Jordan vows crackdown on online incitement

Assad, Russia press intense Aleppo assault

Iran's Ahmadinejad says will not run for president

Boris Johnson dismisses Erdogan goat poem as 'trivia'

Turkey dismisses 87 spy agency staff over failed coup

Egypt recovers sunken boat, more bodies

Israel's Peres 'fighting for his life'

Bombings kill at least seventeen in Baghdad

Netanyahu chooses diplomacy in US election

Iran sets conditions for joining terror finance taskforce

Who is the destroyer of Timbuktu shrines?

Israel to charge Lieberman party officials in graft probe

Egypt detains owner of capsized migrant vessel

Countless bombings in Baghdad’s Karrada since 2003 US-led invasion

Clinton, Trump clash in fiery first presidential debate

Moroccan gets death threat messages over cartoon posted by killed Jordanian

Saudi king unveils austerity drive

Israel prosecutor general denies going easy on PM

Iran frees Iranian-Canadian academic

Supplies dwindle, strikes intensify in Syria's Aleppo

Rebels, civilians quit Homs under deal with regime

Oman court closes national newspaper, jails three journalists

Israel-US consortium signs $10 billion gas deal with Jordan