Syria dissidents eye unity in Istanbul
ANKARA- Hürriyet Daily News | 8/19/2011 12:00:00 AM | Sevil Küçükkoşum
Syrian opposition plans to gather in Istanbul on Sunday in order to select a national council among all Syrian opposition committees. Ankara is not contributing to their gatherings but will be watching it closely, according to an official
Members of the Syrian opposition are expected to form a national council Sunday as an alternative to embattled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad during a gathering in Istanbul, according to likely participants.
The task of the Syrian national council is to organize opposition parties and formulate “a road map to transform Syria into a democratic system,” Local Coordination Committees of Syria spokesperson Mohammad al-Abdullah told Radio Sawa on Friday. “The [national] council is an attempt to represent the opposition and [show] the aims of the Syrian revolution to the international community.”
The Syrian opposition has already held meetings in Istanbul; the national council that is expected to be elected Sunday would include all committees elected at previous conferences, Omar al-Muqdad, head of the Legislative and Consultative Committee mandated by Syrian opposition group the Conference of Change, told the Hürriyet Daily News on Friday.
There have been a number of discussions on the election of the national council, and the initiative is still being negotiated, Ammar Qurabi, head of Syria’s National Organization for Human Rights, told the Daily News.
More than 40 Syrian “revolution blocs” have forged a coalition to unite their efforts against the Assad regime, according to a statement received Friday by Agence France-Presse. “We announce today the establishment of [the] ‘Syrian Revolution General Commission,’ the result of merging all the signatory Syrian Revolution blocs both inside and outside Syria and those who are invited to join as well in order to have, through this commission, a representation of the revolutionaries all over our beloved Syria,” the statement said.
Members of Syrian opposition to President Bashar al-Assad are expected to meet in Istanbul on Sunday for a meeting intended to elect a national council, according to an opposition member who will take part in the meeting.
“The [national] council is an attempt to represent the opposition and [show] the aims of the Syrian revolution to the international community,” Local Coordination Committees of Syria spokesperson Mohammad al-Abdullah said Friday. More than 40 Syrian “revolution blocs” have forged a coalition to unite their efforts against Assad’s regime, according to a statement received by media outlets on Friday.
Turkey is reluctant to follow the United States and European powers in calling for Assad to step down. Ankara has been consistent in its position that the Syrian people must make the call first, but the situation is made difficult by the lack of a cohesive opposition party.
Turkey biding time on Assad departure call
Ankara, meanwhile, has been reluctant to follow U.S. President Barack Obama’s call on Assad to step down, yet has still been remaining in contact with the Syrian opposition.
The Syrian people must first say “go” to Assad, but, pending Sunday, there is not yet any uniform Syrian opposition asking the president to quit, a Turkish official told the Daily News.
“It’s open to debate in terms of what the Syrian people on the streets are opposing. Some of them want change and ask for reforms, some demand a change of regime. But there has not been a uniform structure [in the Syrian opposition on the streets],” the official said.
Turkey does not rule out calling on Assad to quit, but says it is too early to call for the president’s departure.
Turkey has contacts with the Syrian opposition both within Syria and outside the country, the official said.