SNC Rejects Any Dialogue With Assad or His Officials

Article Summary
In an interview with Muhammad Al Makki Ahmad, Abdul-Basit Sida, the newly-elected leader of the Syrian National Council (SNC), rejects dialogue with the Assad regime. He joins many others in the opinion that Russia is softening its position of sheltering Assad. He calls for Hezbollah and Iran to side with the Syrian people in their struggle.

Abdul-Basit Sida, the new Syrian National Council (SNC) leader, said that the Syrian opposition meeting in Istanbul is “intended to unify the positions of the main opposition parties into a national document that embodies their vision for Syria’s upcoming transitional stage.” Sida stressed: “There will be no dialogue with the Syrian president Bashar al-Assad or his group ... We do not seek to eradicate the Ba'ath Party. Instead we plan to treat it like any other political group. Our aim is to uproot tyranny, not ideologies or parties."

He reiterated his proposal to include the initiative of the UN-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan under Chapter VII of the UN Security Council. Sida urged Iran and Hezbollah to respect the will of the Syrian people and to prepare for a new stage in Syria. He also praised the Arab Gulf countries, namely Saudi Arabia and Qatar, for supporting the revolution of the Syrian people.

In an interview with Al-Hayat, he said: “We have entered a critical stage, in which the regime is now resorting to savagery by committing daily massacres against Syrians in different areas by using heavy weapons. The situation reflects the confusion and weakness of the regime. The use of force in such a manner is proof of weakness, not strength, and this demonstrates the regime’s lack of confidence.”

He added: “It is difficult to determine a time frame for the fall of the regime, mainly due to a number of factors that are still interconnected and playing out together. However, the facts on the ground indicate that the influence of the regime is declining, especially in vital cities such as Damascus. There are also signs that businessmen are starting to distance themselves from Assad’s regime. In addition, Syria is continually experiencing defections and is increasingly becoming internationally isolated. The Syrian people continue to advance their revolution, while the regime persists on resorting to force. The aforementioned elements prove that we have entered the last chapter. It is still unknown whether it will be a long or short chapter, but at the end of the day we will be able to dispose of the regime.”

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“We reject dialogue with Bashar and his officials. We will negotiate with those who did not partake in killing Syrians to set the time and mechanism for the fall of the regime.” Sida stressed that the National Council does not adopt the policy of eradication "because it is a wrong approach.” Regarding the Ba'ath, Sida said: “We will accept the Ba'ath party as a political faction, but we will strip all of its privileges from it in order to make it equal to other parties. We want to eradicate tyranny and its system. We do not seek to eradicate ideologies or parties.”

Sida stated that the international community “has started to accept the Syrian stance and now realize that things are heading to the unknown, signaling a disaster. God forbid, if we head to the unknown, the devastating effects will not only affect Syria, they will also have clear consequences for the region.”

Regarding the changes in international positions, he said: “After contacting our friends, we have noticed that everyone is currently racing against time. We had visited Beijing and discussed the situation with the Chinese, and we are in contact with the Russians. Sometimes we receive positive signs, and at other times we run into hard-line positions. It is worth noting that during the past few weeks, the Russian media has allowed [anti-regime] voices to call for accepting the demands of the Syrian people and stressed the importance of supporting them. There were also those who criticized the Russian government ... This phenomenon reflects a preliminary stage for an upcoming change in events. We are in contact with the [international community] and we will attempt to accurately know their stances through direct talks, not through media statements.”

Pertaining to the international conference on Syria that Moscow has proposed and Iran will participate in, Sida said: “We did not call for this conference. However, any conference is helpful at this point in time. I believe that Tehran is currently supporting the regime politically, financially and militarily. For this reason, its participation in this conference will not lead to any desired goals. This is true unless it starts accepting the will of the Syrian people and realizes that the people want to continue their revolution until they obtain its goals. We call upon the the Iranian government to prepare for the upcoming stage in Syria and respect our history, geography and joint interests. We are not in a hostile standoff with Iran, but we urge it to support the Syrian people. We believe that such a stance will also serve the interests of Iran.”

Regarding his views on the progress of Kofi Annan’s initiative, he said: “Since the beginning, we had reservations over the initiative. First, we had called for at least 3,000 observers, while they decided to send only 300. When we saw that both the Arab League and the UN were supportive of this initiative, we decided to support it too. However, we voicing our opinions on it. We said that the Syrian regime is an expert on rendering any initiative useless by saying one thing and doing something else.”

The head of the SNC urged Annan to identify the sides that are hindering the initiative. “There is no doubt that the regime is mostly responsible for hindering Annan’s initiative. Annan is currently calling for new approaches and is communicating with international actors. We hope these new proposals can force the regime to adopt the peace initiative, and that they do not give it additional time to carry out even more killings. For that reason, it is important for Annan to head to the Security Council and submit a proposal to list his peace initiative under Chapter VII.”

Regarding the upcoming opposition meeting, Sida said, “The opposition meeting in Istanbul is scheduled to take place on June 22 and 23. It is intended to unify the position of the main opposition parties into a national document that embodies the vision of the Syrian opposition for Syria’s upcoming transitional stage. This is to reassure Syria, the region and the international community.” He added, “This meeting will pave the way for a comprehensive meeting that will be held under the auspices of the Arab League in Cairo.”

Concerning the relationship between the SNC and the Free Syrian Army, Sida said: “We have met with the leading figures of the Free Syrian Army more than once, and we are currently in contact with them. Furthermore, there is a liaison office at present and we will attempt to activate this office and develop its conduct. We are doing our best to unify the efforts of the different regiments and groups in the army present on the field. The National Council decided to provide for the needs of the Free Army so that it would be able to defend the Syrian demonstrators and areas that are being attacked by the regime.”

Sida praised the Gulf countries, particularly Qatar and Saudi Arabia, for supporting the Syrian revolution. “We greatly appreciate and cherish their distinctive role. These countries stood by the Syrian people in the most difficult and critical circumstances. Our future will be based on such support. Our relationship with the Gulf countries, namely Qatar and Saudi Arabia, continues to grow. We are bound by special relations that serve the region and the people, and they are not intended against anyone.”

He added, “We are scheduled to visit a number of Arab countries. We will first visit the Arab Gulf countries, then Libya and Egypt. After, we will visit other countries as well.”

Concerning Egypt, Sida stated: “The transitional stage in Egypt became imbalanced. We have met with officials in the Egyptian government and we noticed that everyone is anticipating what will follow the presidential elections. We hope that Egypt regains its leading role in the region. We have strong relations with the Egyptian people and civil-society organizations, and we hope that this will be the case with the new government. This will serve the interest of both the Egyptian and Syrian people.”

Sida called upon Hezbollah to respect the will of the Syrians and to prepare for the stage that will follow the fall of the corrupt regime. According to him, the best solution is “to be tolerant with Lebanese society and to begin a dialogue between the two countries with an open mind. This will serve the interests of everyone, as well as the relationship between Syria and pluralistic democracies like Lebanon. It will serve the interests of the Lebanese and Syrian peoples and the interests of the region.”

Addressing Arab and international countries, “the Syrian revolution seeks freedom, justice and dignity, and the people will eventually attain their goals. Our goals may cost us more victims, but God willing, we will be able to achieve them. The new Syria will be a bridge of communication and tolerance between all, and serve as the force behind regional and international stability. Syria will regain the modern role that characterized the country before this regime took power. They are controlling the country with their gangs. These gangs have turned Syria into an exploitable hub that is igniting unrest and problems for other countries. We affirm that the new Syria will be a model of stability, harmony and cultural diversity for the people of the region.”

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Found in: abdul-basit sida, unsc, syrian revolution, syrian national council, syrian, kofi annan, hizbullah, free syrian army, chapter vii, assad regime, assad
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