National Coordination Committee Says Dialogue with Syrian Regime Depends on Acceptance of Arab Protocol

Article Summary
Hassan Abdul-Azim is leader of the domestic Syrian opposition National Coordination Committee for Democratic Change. In this interview, he states that his organization reject dialogue with the Assad regime until the latter has implemented the conditions of the Arab League’s protocol on the Syrian crisis.

Mr. Hassan Abdul-Azim, the head of the National Coordination Committee for the Forces of Democratic Change argued that despite the disagreements and disputes within the Syrian opposition, all members have unanimously agreed that President Assad must step down. He also stressed that the opposition will not engage in dialogue with the regime unless the government implements the Arab Protocol's provisions, namely putting an end to violence, withdrawing the army and releasing the detainees.

El-Khabar  The Russian Foreign Minister has said that the Syrian regime is willing to dialogue with the opposition. Do you agree with this approach?

Mr. Hassan Abdul-Azim  We, the National Coordination Committee [NCC], cannot engage in dialogue with the regime unless the government implements the Arab Protocol's provisions, [which would] pave the way for the transition period. We cannot speak of dialogue in light of the [government’s] arrest campaigns, the ongoing assassinations, and the presence of the army in Syria’s streets.

El-Khabar  Rumors have circulated that the foreign-based opposition is attempting to form a government and win international recognition. Have you taken part in this initiative or is the opposition still divided?

Mr. Hassan Abdul-Azim  We have not been called to join the government. I believe this matter relates to the Syrian National Council [SNC]. Regarding the division within the opposition, I believe that despite the many differences between the [NCC] and the [SNC], not to mention the youth movements in the street, I confirm that everyone on the ground agrees that the regime must fall. This means that the objectives are the same, but the means differ. We reject any military intervention in Syria, while others accept it. However, if the opposition were united, it would be more beneficial to our cause.

El-Khabar  How are you planning to end this crisis given the current escalating situation, which is deadlocked?

Mr. Hassan Abdul-Azim  We believe that it is necessary for the popular revolution to continue in Syria until all the people's demands are fulfilled, [including] the departure of the Syrian regime. Moreover, it is necessary to unite our efforts and to reconcile the opposition's different positions.

El-Khabar  Events on the ground seem to be turning into a conflict between dissidents and pro-government forces. Is this true?

Mr. Hassan Abdul-Azim  It is true that the Syrian revolution failed to preserve its peaceful nature as we had hoped, and the number of dissidents is on the rise. This is one of our points of contention with the [SNC]. We believe that the revolution must remain peaceful. However, the regime's violent crackdown has forced dissidents to take up arms so as to defend the Syrian people. In any case, we believe that it is necessary to carry on with the protests, as they are the only way to assert the will of the Syrian people and to effect change.

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