National Coordinating Body for Democratic Change names Executive Committee_Syrian opposition must avoid splits

The National Coordinating Body for Democratic Change announced the names of the members of its Executive Committee at a press conference in the Syrian capital Damascus, following a meeting in a suburb of Damascus on 6 October 2011.  

Hassan Abdel Azim, General Coordinator of the National Coordinating Body for Democratic Change opened the conference by offering condolences to the family of the official spokesman for the Kurdish Future Movement, Mesha’al al-Tammo, who was assassinated last Friday, 9 October in the city of Qamishli. Hassan Abdel Azim also presented condolences to the Kurdish national movement in particular, and to the Syrian national movement in general for the loss of one Syria’s national figures by the actions of an unidentified terrorist gang.

Speaking about the efforts of unification of the opposition, Hassan Abdel Azim said firstly that all, the opposition are have been agreed since the year 2000 on working for peaceful democratic change, and there is no argument about this central goal. His second point was that the greater part of the opposition is unified within the National Coordinating Body both at home and abroad, and the others are unified within the National Council.

To answer the demand of the street about the possibility of a formal unification of the opposition under one umbrella, we repeat that in Doha, Qatar we all decided to announce the National Coalition for the opposition in Damascus, and we gave our agreement in principle to signing up with any opposition party that shares our vision based on three no’s: no violence, no sectarian strife, no foreign military interference as we are committed to these principles. Since that time, the National Council has been operating without a National Coalition being formed.

Abdel Aziz al-Khair, member of the Executive Committee of the National Coordinating Body for Democratic Change answered a question about the demonstrations that came out on Friday 9 October 2011 that carried the name – ‘the National Council represents me’ – saying that he wanted to make it very clear that there is no dialogue between the Coordination Body for Democratic Change and the regime, which is an accusation that arises from the propaganda of political opponents. He continued, ‘We are talking first of all about comprehensive national change and transition from a regime of authoritarian dictatorship to a democratic parliamentary system. Secondly, we welcome the formation of the National Council in Istanbul, and it is our observation are although we have reservations we can speak about this directly in meetings with the Council representatives.  Thirdly, the National Council is representative of part of the opposition located mainly abroad with some at home, and the National Coordination Body for Democratic Change  is based at home in Syria with links outside. The Syrian national opposition now is two parts, the greatest part being inside Syria, and the others are located abroad.’

The names of members of the Coordination Body’s Executive Bureau were announced in the press conference. They are:

  •  Ahmed Fa’iz al-Fawaz
  • Bassam al-Malak
  • Jamal Mulla Mahmud
  • Hassan Abdel-Azim
  • Hassan al-Awat
  • Ra’ed al-Naqshabandi
  • Rejar al-Nasser
  • Shukri al-Mahamid
  • Salah Muslim Mohammed
  • Tareq Abu al-Hassan.
  • Aref Dalilah
  • Abdel Aziz al-Khair
  • Adnan Wahba
  • Fa’ez Sarah
  • Mohammed al-Harith
  • Mohamed Sayed Rassas
  • Mohamed al-Samadi
  • Mohammed al-Ammar
  • Mohammed Flitani
  • Mohammed Musa Mohammed
  • Mahmoud Morei
  • Munzer Khaddam
  • Mansour al-Atassi
  • Mounir Albbitar
  • Mais Kredi
  • Nayef Salloum
  • Nasr al-Din Ibrahim

Reuters: Syria’s opposition must avoid divisions that play into the hands of President Bashar al-Assad, particularly between campaigners inside and outside the country, Michel Kilo, a leading activist based in Syria, said Tuesday.

During a visit to Paris, Kilo, a writer who spent six years in jail for opposing Syria’s leadership, said his group, the National Committee for Democratic Change [aka National Coordinating Body for Democratic Change ], did not want foreign intervention of the kind seen in Libya.

The United Nations should instead adopt a resolution allowing observers to monitor and protect civilians, he told reporters.

“The regime is betting on the differences between those inside and outside, and we are trying to not serve that,” said Kilo.

Assad’s crackdown on protesters against his 11-year rule has killed about 2,900 people, according to U.N. estimates. The United States and the European Union have imposed sanctions and are seeking a U.N. resolution against Damascus.

Kilo’s group has organized demonstrations in Syria and appears increasingly keen to bridge divisions with opposition groups outside the country.

Some figures inside the country privately criticize the opposition in exile for being too ready to seek outside intervention in Syria.

Other issues dividing the opposition include ethnic and sectarian differences, disagreement over the role of religion in the state and a generation gap between veteran opposition figures and the youthful street activists.

The 71-year old Kilo said he would meet the Paris-based leader of the National Council, a broad opposition group formed earlier this month, including academics, grassroots activists, the Muslim Brotherhood and other dissident signatories of the so-called Damascus Declaration.

The National Council’s chairman Burhan Ghalioun has called for his movement to be recognized as representative of those ranged against Assad. But he has faced criticism for failing to unite all strands of the opposition.

Kilo said that while ready to meet Ghalioun in Paris it was not “logical” to be guided from outside when millions were protesting on the streets inside Syria.

“Burhan Ghalioun is my friend, I’m here, he is here and yes we will talk,” Kilo said.

“There isn’t a huge difference between us and the overseas opposition. We are the same people but with two voices,” he said.

Kilo, whose group includes Syrian nationalists, Kurds, socialists, Marxists as well as independents, said he did not support foreign military intervention in Syria because it would raise questions over the country’s independence.

“It’s not Libya,” he said. “We have extremely sensitive relations with Turkey, Iran and Israel as well as minorities such as the Kurds, Allawites and Christians, so we have to handle the situation carefully.”

Kilo, a Christian from the Mediterranean city of Lattakia, pointed to difficulties in other countries caught up in a wave of pro-democracy uprisings across the Arab world, citing the escalation of a protest by Coptic Christians in Egypt that led to 25 deaths in recent days.

“This will leave a very negative impact (in Syria),” he said. It will frighten the people, who are already extremely frightened.”

11 October 2011

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