ISSN 2330-717X

Syria: Opposition Fails To Unify; More Calls For Intervention – OpEd


The Syrian Opposition tried to further unify its ranks this past week, but failed. Instead the various factions of Syrian National Council – the main opposition front that has met most frequently with Western government officials – fell into recriminations.


The problems started with the announcement of an agreement to unify both the NCB [sometimes call NCC] – National Coordination Body for Democratic Change [NCB] and the Syrian National Council [SNC] by Haytham Manaa and Burhan Ghaliun, the leaders of the two groups. Here is the first part of an announcement of the agreement put out by the NCB:

From the NCB – National Coordination Body for Democratic Change [NCB]
Agreement between the National Coordination Body for Democratic Change [NCB] and the Syrian National Council [SNC], to be submitted to the Secretariat of the Arab League as a joint political document for the Congress of the Syrian opposition that is expected to take place under the umbrella of the Arab League in January 2012.

Following talks lasting for more than a month involving the leadership of the NCB and the SNC, the parties agreed on the following:
1 – Rejection of any foreign military intervention that affects the sovereignty and independence of the country. The Arab intervention is not considered to be foreign.
2 – Protection of civilians by all legitimate means in the context of international human rights Law.
3 – Preservation and promotion of national unity of the Syrian people, and the refusal and condemnation of sectarianism, its mobilization, and all that leads to it.
4 – We are proud of the officers and Syrian soldiers who refused to obey the orders to kill civilians and peaceful demonstrators demanding freedom, and we understand the humanitarian and patriotic crisis of conscience which the regime has forced on them. We hold the regime fully responsible for this…

Following the announcement on Dec 31, there was a major movement to unseat Burhan within the SNC. Even some of his closest allies joined in the criticism.  Members of the Muslim Brotherhood attacked him for being a “dictator” because he didn’t send the agreement to the appropriate SNC committees before announcing it. Ghalioun quickly began to back away from the agreement, calling it a draft. Haytham Manaa is being badly criticized by SNC members for being willing to talk to the regime.

Much of the criticism came from opposition members who reject that declarations renunciation of foreign intervention. Both Manaa and Ghalioun have been outspoken opponents of outright foreign intervention, but increasingly the Muslim Brothers and others within the SNC and local coordinating committees want foreign powers to bring down the Asad regime. They want action and fear the present stalemate will continue for a long time unless foreign governments get involved.

See this criticism on al-Jazeera English by Ashraf al-Muqdad of the Damascus Declaration. He claims most opposition want intervention.

A new SNC website in English. It provides profiles of the members, although there are many misleading names. Many members continue to use false names because they fear reprisals from the regime. Also see this “Report: Who is the Syrian-Kurdish opposition? The development of Kurdish parties, 1956-2011.” I have condensed some of the most important paragraphs below.

Syria Comment - Joshua Landis

Joshua Landis maintains Syria Comment and teaches modern Middle Eastern history and politics and writes on Syria and its surrounding countries. He writes “Syria Comment,” a daily newsletter on Syrian politics that attracts some 3,000 readers a day. It is widely read by officials in Washington, Europe and Syria. Dr. Landis regularly travels to Washington DC to consult with the State Department and other government agencies. He is a frequent analyst on TV and radio.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *