New Syrian coalition seeks transitional gov't

Ahmad Moaz al-Khatib, the leader of Syria's new opposition coalition, said that establishing a transitional government was now their top priority.

New Syrian coalition seeks transitional gov't

World Bulletin/News Desk
Syria's new opposition coalition, which was recognized as the “legitimate representative of the Syrian people” on Wednesday, seeks to establish a transitional government as the next step after the long-awaited recognition from the international community.

During the fourth ministerial meeting of the Friends of Syrian People group in Marrakesh, the new opposition coalition, called the “National Coalition for Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces,” was recognized and the countries attending the meeting reiterated that embattled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's regime has lost its legitimacy to govern Syria.

Ahmad Moaz al-Khatib, the leader of Syria's new opposition coalition, told Today's Zaman after Wednesday's meeting that establishing a transitional government was now their top priority. “A transitional government is one of the steps after recognition. But we will work on it. There are lots of promises given to us by the international community. We will wait for them to be fulfilled,” Khatib said.

Prior to Wednesday's meeting, Syrian opposition groups, under US pressure, agreed last month at a meeting in Doha to reorganize themselves and create a new coalition. Separately, opposition commanders across Syria agreed to create a united military command during a meeting last week in Antalya, while members of local administrative councils announced a joint organizational structure for local administration last week in İstanbul.

Speaking during Wednesday's meeting, Turkish Foreign Minster Ahmet Davutoğlu stated that the Syrian coalition was now an inclusive, legitimate and well-organized opposition structure to work with during the transition process.

Turkey, France, Britain and Arab countries that are members of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) have already recognized the coalition formed in Doha as the “sole legitimate representative of the Syrian people.” However, the growing number of countries recognizing the coalition on Wednesday increased the expectations of the coalition in establishing a transitional government as soon as possible.

According to the declaration announced after the meeting, the countries attending the meeting encouraged the Syrian coalition and all opposition groups to work together to agree on a common approach for a sustainable transition process and a post-Assad period.

Abdelbaset Sieda, a prominent opposition figure, stated that the most important step after recognition was to establish a transitional government, which would have two main aims. “After establishing a transitional government, Syrians should first be ready to work on a new constitution and then go to elections for a new democratic parliament,” Seida told in remarks to Today's Zaman.

US officials quoted by The Associated Press said the US's evolution in recognizing Syria's opposition would closely mirror the process the Barack Obama administration took last year in Libya with its opposition.

In that case, Libya's National Transitional Council moved from being one of several legitimate representatives to the sole legitimate representative of the Libyan people. While the revolution continued, the council opened an office in Washington, and the administration in return sent the late Ambassador Chris Stevens to Benghazi as envoy.

When asked who could be the possible leader of the transitional government, George Sabra, the leader of the Syrian National Council (SNC), one of the major organizations now under the new Syrian Coalition for Opposition and Revolutionary Forces, refrained from answering, saying that the Syrian opposition was already negotiating over the names. “We will be working on names until the next meeting,” Sabra told Today's Zaman.

According to the coalition's spokesman, Walid al-Bunni, the Syrian coalition would negotiate with Syrians inside the country over the names of those who would take part in the transitional government. “This government must be first recognized by the Syrian people inside Syria. We already have many committees within the coalition working for the transitional government process,” said Waleed.

Bunni also added that the Syrian opposition should prepare itself for a post-Assad era as soon as possible, adding that the collapse of the regime was not too far off.

The Turkish foreign minister stated that in order to prevent a further deterioration of the crisis and its adverse effects on the broader region, more tangible steps should be taken. “Urgent and determined action is necessary, more than ever. Diplomatic efforts are important, but we don't have time to spend with meetings,” maintained Davutoğlu.

Syrians inside the war-torn country are in urgent need of help, said Sabra, adding that the Syrian opposition must be provided with tools and equipment in order to protect and defend themselves. “This is the right of the Syrian people because Russia, China and Iran are still providing arms to the regime. Why are the Syrian people prevented from receiving arms?” said Sabra.

The Friends of Syrian People group also urged Assad's allies to reconsider their support and stop their arms supplies. The group stated that concrete measures, including tightening control on the transfer of weapons used in the killing and repression of the Syrian people, should be taken.

Seida hopes that the recognition by the international community would add pressure on Assad's allies Russia, Iran and China. “The situation in Syria is deteriorating day by day and if it continues this way, the extremism will increase. The instability in Syria may spill over to our neighbors,” said Seida, adding that in the post-Assad era, the biggest concern of the Syrian opposition is to rebuild the country both socially and economically.

Güncelleme Tarihi: 15 Aralık 2012, 10:00