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INTERNATIONAL > No de-Baathification in Syria, US envisions

ISTANBUL - Hürriyet Daily News

Following comments by Washington that the Syrian National Council (SNC) is no longer the visible leader of the opposition, the SNC says Washington is not in favor of a ‘de-Baathification’ of Syria after al-Assad

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Syrians do not want current regime figures in new era, Khoja says.

Syrians do not want current regime figures in new era, Khoja says.

İpek Yezdani İpek Yezdani ipek.yezdani@hurriyet.com.tr

The U.S. government wanted some elements of Syria’s Baath regime to stay in power after Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad is toppled, Syrian opposition group the Syrian National Council’s (SNC) Turkey representative Khaled Khoja said, a day after Washington called for an overhaul of Syria’s opposition leadership claiming it was time to move beyond the SNC and bring in those “on the front lines fighting and dying.”

Responding to Clinton’s comments, Khoja said the Obama administration has maintained its distance from the SNC from the very beginning. “Despite the decisions that were made in the Friends of Syria meetings, the U.S. has always been distant to the SNC. They wanted the PYD [Democratic Union Party], which has ties to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), and the Kurdish opposition to be one of the main pillars of the opposition in Syria. However, the PYD has not signed the national pact and road map that we have agreed upon during our previous meeting in Cairo. They wanted to have the word autonomy in the pact, however, we cannot accept something like this,” Khoja said.

Doha meeting

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said the administration was suggesting names and organizations that should be featured prominently in any new rebel leadership that emerged from talks starting next week in Doha. She dismissed the SNC, a group of regime opponents who have lived in exile for decades, saying its leadership days are over even if it could still play a role.

“We’ve made it clear that the SNC can no longer be viewed as the visible leader of the opposition. They can be part of a larger opposition, but that opposition must include people from inside Syria and others who have a legitimate voice which must be heard,” the Associated Press quoted her as saying. The spokesman also said the PYD had relations with the al-Assad regime and Syrian opposition forces, conditions unacceptable for the Syrian people, who wanted a revolution.

“It is not us. It is the Syrian people who don’t want any elements of the current regime to stay in power in the aftermath of the al-Assad regime.”

Turkey’s stance same

U.S. officials have expressed frustration with the SNC’s inability to create a coherent plan and its lack of traction with disparate internal groups. “There has to be a representation of those who are on the front lines fighting and dying today to obtain their freedom. And there needs to be an opposition leadership structure that is dedicated to representing and protecting all Syrians,” Clinton said.

Reiterating Turkey’s well-known stance that the Syrian people should decide their own destiny, Turkish diplomatic sources in Ankara said all views concerning Syria’s future would be discussed at an upcoming Doha meeting, including the ones voiced by Clinton. The country’s people should themselves decide on the structure of Syrian opposition, though Turkey will host the Syrian National Council (SNC) in Istanbul, according to Ankara.

Clinton said the opposition should “strongly resist the efforts by extremists to hijack the Syrian revolution.” However, speaking to Agence France-Presse in response, SNC chairman Abdel Basset Sayda said the situation resulted from the international community’s inaction in regards to Syria.

“The international community is responsible through its lack of support for the Syrian people, for the growth of extremism in Syria,” said Sayda. “The international community should criticize itself and ask itself, what did it give the Syrian people? How has it helped the Syrians to stop the regime’s crazy killing?” On the ground, rebels killed 28 soldiers in Syria’s northwestern battlefields yesterday.

November/02/2012

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