Syrian Muslim Brotherhood to form political party

July 20, 2012, Friday/ 16:31:00/ ABDULLAH AYASUN

Amid escalating violence in Damascus and the constant failure of the international community to bring an end to the year-long Syrian crisis, with Russia and China vetoing yet another resolution aimed at condemning President Bashar al-Assad's regime on Thursday, the Syrian branch of the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) has decided to form a political party to take a more active role on the political scene.

The decision came as result of discussions in a two-day conference held earlier in the week and announced by the senior officials in the movement at a press conference in İstanbul on Friday. The movement convened on Monday for a two-day conference to discuss restructuring the organization and to define its role during the revolution.

Addressing the audience at the press conference, Ali al-Bayanouni, former head of the MB and current chief of the political bureau, said the movement will found a new Islamic party that will cooperate with other political parties to bring about change in Syria.

In addition, the movement will bolster its communication with other countries to secure their backing in the process of toppling the Assad regime.

The Syrian National Council (SNC) is the sole representative of the Syrian people, he said, inviting all other groups which have not taken part, to gather under the roof of the council. the new Syria, he stated, will be a civilian, democratic and multi-party state that grants rights to every citizen regardless of their ethnic and sectarian bonds.

“We call on the UN and international community to protect the lives of Syrian civilians,” he said. Offering his thanks to Turkey, Jordan and the Gulf states for their assistance and help, Bayanouni called on Egypt to take a more active role in the process and to cut ties with Damascus.

The movement also vehemently criticized Russia for its strong backing of the Assad regime. Bayanouni called on the Duma, Russia's lower house of parliament, to take a critical stance against the Russian government. He said humanity will not forget the negative Russian stance after Moscow vetoed resolutions against the Bashar al-Assad regime three times.

The Syrian branch of the MB is the only branch of the movement that does not have a political party. The decision indicates that through founding a political party, the movement will not restrict itself to social and religious activities.

The MB has been a banned organization in Syria since 1982 when the regime crushed the movement in Hama. More than 10,000 people were indiscriminately killed by the Syrian army under the command of Rıfaat al-Assad, the younger brother of then President Hafeez al-Assad, during the unrest.

In response to a question about Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's visit to Moscow, the organization's head, Mohammad Riyad Sukfa, said they had had no contact or meetings with the Turkish government before the visit.

The conference came after a deadly bomb attack ripped through Damascus and killed three key figures of Assad's inner circle. Both Sukfa, Bayanouni and other speakers praised the attack and said it was a sign that the regime is weakening.

Details of the new party will be announced at a later date.

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