Egypt-Iran Consensus Key To Ending Syria's Crisis

Article Summary
It is too early to form a transitional Syrian government, says opposition coordinator Hassan Abdel Azim. He tells Azzaman the peace initiatives of Egypt and Iran are key, but cannot succeed without the help of international players.

Hassan Abdel Azim, the General Coordinator of the Syrian opposition’s National Coordination Committee for Democratic Change (NCC), asserted that the Iranian and Egyptian initiatives are a possible solution for the Syrian crisis. He pointed out that any initiative cannot succeed without coordination with the Arab League, the European Union, the United Nations, and regional countries that are influential in the Syrian issue. He said that forming a transitional government in exile will split the opposition at home and abroad.

In an interview with Azzaman, Azim praised President Mohammed Morsi's initiative and stressed that if the Egyptian initiative is combined with the Iranian one, it would form a regional/Arab initiative supported by about 120 countries and that this initiative could be a gateway to resolving the Syrian crisis.

Abdel Azim predicated the success of any initiative to first stopping the violence, destruction, and displacement, then by releasing all detainees in order to provide a climate suitable for negotiating the end of the regime and in order to establish a pluralistic democratic parliamentary system.

During his visit to Damascus a few days ago, Alaeddin Boroujerdi, the head of the Committee for National Security and Foreign Policy in the Iranian Shura Council, revealed the main points of his country’s initiative to resolve the Syrian crisis. The initiative includes a call to laying the groundwork for negotiations between the Syrian government and the opposition, declaring a cease-fire, and forming a contact group made up of the 30 states that Iran recently hosted at a conference.

The Non-Aligned Movement conference held in Tehran on August 30 and 31 was expected to discuss the details of this initiative.

A few days ago, the Egyptian president suggested forming a contact group comprising four Arab and regional countries — Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Iran and Turkey — with the aim of reaching a political solution to the Syrian crisis. Syria officially welcomed the move.

In response to calls made by the opposition abroad to form a transitional government, Azim said that such a move is premature and could create a rift between the opposition forces and disagreements over positions and ministries.

Azim suggested forming a unified opposition leadership or a national action committee that represents the various currents in the Syrian opposition and whose aim would be do unify the media, diplomatic, and relief efforts and play a role in the transitional phase.

He added that he respects any proposal by any opposition party however he thought that the call to form a transitional government makes the opposition appear to be competing for positions and portfolios.

Regarding the appointment of Lakhdar Brahimi, the new international envoy to Syria, and whether he would succeed in his mission, Azim said that resolving the Syrian crisis does not depend on efforts by this or that UN envoy but rather on the various Syrian parties, both those in power and in the opposition, as well as on the positions of Arab and other countries.

Azim said that if the regional and international circumstances mature and influential countries come to an agreement on how to solve the Syrian issue, we may then see a breakthrough, provided that those countries put pressure on the regime and the opposition to abide by whatever peaceful political solution they agree to.

Abdel Azim said that the decisions that came out of the Geneva conference on Syria last July can help the Arab and UN envoy Lakhdar Brahimi in his mission. The participants at Geneva conference were the foreign ministers of the five permanent UN Security Council members — Russia, Britain, China, the United States and France — those of Turkey, Iraq, Kuwait, and Qatar, the High Commissioner for Foreign Policy in the European Union Catherine Ashton, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon, and Arab League Secretary General Nabil al-Araby.

The conference produced what was described as a power transfer arrangement for Syria. It involves a cease-fire and the forming of a transitional government that includes current members of the Syrian regime. The plan did not explicitly call for President Bashar al-Assad’s resignation, as demanded by the United States and Britain.

Abdel Azim ruled out the possibility of a military intervention in Syria at the current stage. He added that the Russian-Chinese veto would block any such decision. Moreover, Western countries fear that any intervention could trigger a regional war that threatens the security of the region, including Israel.

Abdel Azim reiterated the NCC’s opposition to any military intervention but called on the Syrian authorities to stop the forced displacements, detentions, and killings. He called for an immediate cessation of violence by both the authorities and the armed opposition. He noted that the violence is a threat to the Syrian social fabric as it has already killed tens of thousands of innocent civilians.

Azim attributed the existence of the Free Syrian Army to the regime's policies and its adoption of the security and military solution. He said that there is a big gap between the capabilities of the regular army and of the Free Syrian Army, which includes Syrian soldiers who have refused orders directing them to kill.

In response to a question about the opposition conference to be held in Damascus on September 12, Azim said the goal of this conference is to form a grouping made up of internal and external oppositionists who would cooperate and interact with the peaceful popular revolution to achieve its goal of having a democratic system.

Azim added that this conference is an effort to unite the Syrian opposition forces at home and abroad, especially since the call will be directed to the main forces in the Syrian opposition. He said that the invitation also extends to representatives from the Arab League, the United Nations, the European Union, China, Russia, the BRICS countries, and other states. He said that if there were no real and effective representation of the international community at the conference, it could not be held in Damascus. He pointed out that the presence of such countries and organizations would guarantee that the conference would happen inside Syria.

More than 20 Syrian political parties and currents of various stripes agreed Tuesday to hold a national conference inside Syria on September 12 in order to save Syria. Participating in the conference will be Syrian political parties that have recently been officially licensed, such as the National Development Party and the Ansar, and unlicensed political forces, which include three Kurdish parties, the State-Building Current, the National Coalition, the National Current, the Social Democratic Party, the 11 NCC parties, among them the Kurdish Democratic Union Party, and opposition figures and independents.

Found in: peace, unification of syrian opposition, syria, snc, ncc, fsa, assad

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