Syrian opposition splitting apart, new group launched

Syrian opposition splitting apart, new group launched

ISTANBUL - Hürriyet Daily News
Syrian opposition splitting apart, new group launched

A new opposition ‘Liberation and Construction Block’ announces its formation in Istanbul. Every high-ranking defector wants to have a big role, a SNC member says. DAILY NEWS photo, Hasan ALTINIŞIK

The Syrian opposition has started drifting apart, while criticism against the executive board of the main opposition block, the Syrian National Council, is rising among Syrian dissidents, with new opposition blocks constantly appearing. 

A new Syrian opposition block called the “Liberation and Construction Block” announced its formation by a group of prominent Syrian defectors on March 13 in Istanbul. 

Nawaf al-Bashir, a Syrian parliamentarian and leader of the prominent Baqara tribe, who defected from Syria two months ago, is leading the new opposition bloc, which contains other defectors such as the mayor of the city of Banias, Adnan al-Shahri and Mahmoud Suleiman Haj Hamad, the head financial auditor at the Syrian Defense Ministry, who defected in January. 

“We support the Syrian National Council as an organization, but its executive committee members are not doing their job properly. They are not telling the international community what the Syrian people really want. So we want the Council to be reorganized in accordance with the requests of the revolutionary forces on the ground,” al-Bashir told journalists at a meeting in Istanbul. 

Al-Bashir said the new group supported the armed resistance in Syria and their aim was to unite all the Syrian opposition groups under one umbrella. “We are aiming to unite all the efforts to overthrow the regime as soon as possible, in order to stop the bloodshed in Syria. 

He also said they did not expect any solution to come from the joint envoy of the United Nations and Arab League Kofi Annan’s meetings with the Syrian regime. 

“These visits will only [give] more time to the Syrian regime. We think the international community, which is still standing in silence, is responsible for what has been happening in Syria up to now, including the daily massacres executed by the regime,” al-Bashir said. 

Three opposition figures quit the council

Meanwhile three prominent opposition members resigned from the Council on Tuesday, saying they had given up trying to make the group a more effective player in the revolt against President Bashar al-Assad’s rule, Reuters reported. 

Haitham al-Maleh, a former judge and long-standing dissident against four decades of al-Assad family rule, was joined by opposition leader Kamal al-Labwani and human rights lawyer Catherine al-Talli in announcing his resignation.

Their departure comes at a time when the West and Arab powers are trying to raise the pressure on the opposition to unite and show it can lead the uprising against al-Assad. 

A Council member, who requested anonymity, said 80 members of the 270-strong group were also planning to defect, and may form a new opposition movement to focus on arming the rebels fighting government forces in Syria.

Another prominent member, who also wished to remain anonymous, had previously said there was friction within the movement because almost every new defector wanted to play an important role, the Hürriyet Daily News reported on March 10. 

“There are internal divisions within the opposition. The main problem is that it is growing so fast every day. We started with 80 people, now we have 340 people, and every high-ranking official defecting from the Syrian regime wants to have a big role,” a member had told the Daily News.