Syrian National Coalition Struggles To Unite All Opposition Parties

The general coordinator of the National Coordination Committee for the Forces for Democratic Change (NCC) tells Al-Hayat that while the newly formed Syrian National Coalition is a step toward unifying the opposition, it does not yet represent the entirety of the opposition, writes Sahar Ghoussoub.

al-monitor Demonstrators protest against Syria's President Bashar al-Assad after Friday prayers in Yabrud, near Damascus Nov. 16, 2012. Photo by REUTERS.

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Nov 20, 2012

The General Coordinator of the National Coordination Committee for the Forces for Democratic Change (NCC), Hassan Abdel Azim, said that "although the Syrian National Coalition serves as a step forward toward unity, it does not represent the entirety of the Syrian opposition."

The NCC has called for intensifying consultations with the opposition forces that refrained from participating in the Doha conference "in order to reach a common vision on the road toward unifying the opposition."

During a press conference held by the NCC yesterday [Nov. 19] to clarify its position on the opposition conferences in Doha and Tehran, Abdel Azim said that Paris' decision to recognize the Syrian Coalition as the sole legitimate representative of the Syrian opposition and to establish an embassy in France to this effect is "in direct conflict with reality."

He criticized France's stance, considering it to stem from France's interests and connections.

Abdel Azim stressed that the talk of a new government is "premature," and the establishment of such a government will "block the road" for the initiative of United Nations envoy Lakhdar Brahimi, which is designed to form a transitional government by an Arab, regional and international consensus and based on a decision issued by the UN Security Council.

In turn, NCC Secretary General Rajaa Nasser stressed that the committee constitutes a major base for the opposition at home, and therefore cannot be written off by any other formula.

In a statement, Nasser stressed that the NCC refused to take part in the Doha conference on the grounds that "the unity of the opposition and democratic change must be first and foremost the result of a purely national project and not stem from the will of a foreign party."

The statement added that no group has the right to claim it is the sole legitimate representative of the people or the revolution as long as the people have not yet had the opportunity to cast their ballots. However, Nasser confirmed that "we refused to participate in the Doha conference, but this does not mean that we have reneged on our goal to unite the opposition."

He also urged all democratic forces to hold dialogue, especially those who believe in the need to stop the violence and form a political process which will live up to the people's demands of freedom, dignity and democracy.

Furthermore, the NCC has called for a new conference in Cairo to put an end to the violence and pave the way for a political solution. Abdel Azim confirmed that the invitation to the conference is open to all factions, including the Syrian Coalition.

The statement added that the NCC refrained from participating in the Tehran conference because "we believed it was a miscalculated move and a mere response to the Doha conference."

Moreover, in a statement issued on Nov. 18, the NCC executive office confirmed that it was sending a delegation to Egypt "to explain the committee's positions toward the Syrian issue to the Egyptian and Arab authorities, in addition to all the Syrian opposition groups that are currently in Cairo."

The executive office added that "the existing frameworks of the Syrian opposition — including the Syrian Coalition that was formed in Doha, the NCC and other groups — do not represent the final form of the united opposition. They are merely a myriad of factions within the Syrian opposition."

The statement stressed the need to communicate "with all opposition forces, including the Syrian Coalition, and hold dialogues to best serve the cause of the Syrian people, and to reach an agreement on a joint program that would complete what has been agreed upon in Cairo's first conference, paving the way for another conference that would include all opposition factions."

This is not to mention that "efforts must be made to intensify consultations with the national democratic forces that did not participate in the Doha conference, such as the National Conference to Save Syria, the Syrian Democratic Platform and the Kurdish National Council, among others. This step is necessary to reach a common vision on the road to unifying the opposition and to coordinate in order to achieve common goals."

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