Representatives of the Syrian opposition, who gathered in Istanbul yesterday to discuss the formation of a general assembly to elect a government in exile, reacted to the US attempt to form an alternative Syrian national council in Qatar on Nov 3.
Responding to Today's Zaman's question on their reaction to the meeting in Qatar next week, Dr.Radwan Ziadeh, the executive director of the Syrian Center for Political and Strategic Studies, said that “no county around the world can impose a leader on the Syrian opposition” and went on to say that the initiative to form an opposition “belongs to Syrians only.”
In the press conference and the following workshop titled “Managing the Transition in Syria: Challenges and a Vision for the Future,” the resentment of the representatives of the Syrian opposition determined the tone of the statements. Cairo-based human rights activist and lawyer Haitham al-Maleh accused the international community of “just watching what is happening in Syria,” as he said that “Syrians feel that the international community abandoned them.” Al-Maleh added that “the international community is itself divided on the Syrian issue because they were not even able to issue a resolution to protect the Syrian people from the atrocities of the Assad regime” let alone establish a no-fly zone despite the request of the Syrian people to that effect. Clearly resenting the international community, al-Maleh said that after the killing of over 30,000 people by the Assad regime “now it is too late, and the Syrian people feel that they have to protect themselves by themselves” after their failed calls for the international community to act to at least stop the bombings of the Assad regime.
Likening what is happening in Syria to Bosnia and Kosovo, al-Maleh called on the international community to “at least give the FSA [Free Syrian Army] anti-aircraft weapons to prevent further massacres in Syria.”
Similarly, Dr. Ziadeh called on the international community to help the Syrian opposition, while he noted that they witnessed at the event in İstanbul “a high possibility that the general assembly to be constituted is likely to elect a government in exile.” However, he pointed out, “The most important thing is to have a guarantee from the international community on the recognition of such a government.” Having said that, Dr.Ziadeh added that countries like France and Germany support the formation of a transitional government and called on the Syrian opposition to work towards it.
Responding to a question on the criteria for the formation of a general assembly, Farouk Taha, a former Syrian Ambassador to Belarus who defected from the regime, said, “The assembly will be comprised of 300 people from all provinces of Syria,” as he emphasized the participation of all political parties that back the revolution in the process, an idea that is shared by all the other attendees at the press conference.