'Transitional Syrian Parliament' Signals a New Kind of Opposition

Article Summary
On the day of the Syrian government’s latest round of elections, dismissed as fraudulent by the regime’s opponents, the opposition decided to form yet another governing body called the “Transitional Syrian Parliament.” Sateh Noureddine writes that the body’s potential is unclear, but that it signals a departure from Islamic and military allegiances.

The formation of the "Transitional Syrian Parliament" was announced on the day of the official parliamentary elections held Monday [May 7, 2012]. Although many did not take this announcement seriously, this new body has the potential to become consequential. It might find itself at the center of events regarding the Syrian crisis or turn into a source of power for the Syrian opposition. This would be quite an accomplishment.

This new parliament includes 120 members, and has announced that its speaker will be Nayef Shaaban. The names of its two Kurdish and Christian deputy speakers remain unknown. However, this body has vowed to represent Alawites. The parliament may simply signal that a number of the Syrian regime’s internal opponents are looking for a role among the opposition. What is certain is that it proves the existence of a void within the popular Syrian opposition. Its formation illustrates that the opposition is open to the creation of additional representative bodies.

Syria has hit an Arab record in terms of the number of opposition groups created by the popular uprising over the past 14 months, as well as in the number of organizations set up by the regime itself or those affiliated with it. There are no longer dozens of groups, but hundreds, which makes it seem as if each city or village has its own political council and party. These myriad bodies each have their own programs regarding issues ranging from the constitution to the future foreign policy of Syria.

At first glance, the Transitional Parliament seems like just another opposition group. But the fact that it emerged within Syria and took the Syrian National Coordination Committee — which has thus far proven to be the most significant opposition body — as a reference, gives the impression that there is a serious problem plaguing the internal opposition. The whole world is waiting for the opposition’s last word, and for the emergence of new leaders and figures to replace those who had jumped on the revolutionary bandwagon, be they the Syrian regime’s traditional opponents or more adventitious individuals living in exile.

There is a deep crisis of confidence within the opposition, and a deeper crisis of leadership between the street and all those who claimed to represent and speak on its behalf. The opposition continues to argue, until this very day, about the possibility of allowing foreign intervention into the country. The regime’s opponents continue to accuse each other of links to the various capitals which call upon them day after day. It is clear that the opposition will have to rely on itself as long as the US and Russia have reached an implicit understanding that civil war is the best option for Syria and its neighbors, without exception.

The formation, timing and constitutional text of the Transitional Parliament, which may represent no more than the whim of one minority, demonstrates that that there are some within the Syrian opposition distancing themselves from the Islamists and the dissident military groups. These two groups are becoming increasingly organized, well-funded, widespread and influential. The future of the country therefore seems to depend on whether they choose to cooperate or divide power between themselves.

The formation of the Transitional Parliament is another reminder that the opposition is stuck within an inescapable labyrinth.

Found in: transitional syrian parliament, syrian opposition, syrian, snc, parliamentary elections, military, islamists, bashar al-assad

Sateh Noureddine is a regular contributor to As-Safir.


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