Syrian Opposition Official Fights To Form Transitional Government

Article Summary
Syrian opposition member Haytham Maleh, who is fighting to form a one-year transitional government of technocrats, defended his efforts against criticism, Mohammad al-Shazli reports. Maleh denied charges that he was acting alone and said he would continue to consult with other opposition factions.

The chairman of the Council of Syrian Revolutionary Trustees, pro-Syrian opposition member Haytham Maleh, launched a scathing attack on opponents who have rejected his efforts to form a transitional government. In an interview with Al-Hayat, Maleh said that such step would be the “bomb of the season,” as it will cause a major sensation. He added that President Bashar al-Assad and two members of the Syrian National Council (SNC) were alarmed by the move. Maleh denied claims that he has taken such a step alone. He noted that 10 days before declaring the formation of the Council of Syrian Revolutionary Trustees, he personally took the first step toward forming a transitional government and called Burhan Ghalioun to stress that the timing is crucial and appropriate for the formation of a transitional government.

Maleh added that he had contacted the secretary-general of the Muslim Brotherhood, Riad Shafqa, and has discussed the matter with him. Maleh has also met with pro-opposition member Riad Seif and urged all concerned parties to seriously address the issue of a transitional government.

Furthermore, Maleh said that this government will not have a political focus, “as we are facing a serious phase ahead of us. We seek a government that enjoys freedom of movement, away from the partisan debates. We do not want the tragic scenario of the SNC Executive Office to play out once again.”

The Syrian opposition member was confident when he said that his proposal lies in forming an impartial government, whose members are not affiliated with any political party — a technocratic government that will serve for one year to save the country. He also noted that this requires the formation of a new group (the Council of Syrian Revolutionary Trustees) made up of 45 figures, mostly from the inside-Syria opposition and a few from abroad.

He also added that new group will include a brigadier colonel from the Free Syrian Army, Abu Khaled. At the end of the meeting, a general secretariat of 15 persons and a presidential council of six (one president, two vice-presidents and three members) were elected.

“I was instructed by the secretariat to make the necessary contacts in order to form a transitional government,” said Maleh, and he was surprised when this proposition was met with a hail of criticism and insults. “If they were really calling for democracy and are seeking to a build a democratic state, they must be aware that forming a government is a proposition on the table and not an invention,” he said.

Maleh spoke of his meeting with the secretary-general of the Arab League, Nabil al-Arabi, that took place on August 2, 2012. Arabi stated that the transitional government has already been placed on the table. France has also urged the opposition to embark on this path. Maleh stressed that the transitional government is an international demand.

The chairman also stressed the need to gather all parties in order to reach an agreement on the principles. He also confirmed that he will carry on with his efforts “as this is not a personal matter, but rather a proposition that has been addressed among all parties, who see the need for the transitional government. Thus, the next appropriate step would be to discuss the matter in more detail.”

Maleh described the reactions to his proposal as part of the “Syrian-opposition disease.” He added that he has left the SNC “after suffering hardship within the executive office, which offered nothing to the Syrian revolution over the past six months.”

Moreover, Maleh said that he demanded that the SNC base the executive office headquarters in Cairo rather than Istanbul, “for the Arab dimension is in Cairo — the most important capital, the media center, the headquarters of the Arab League, the home of the revolutionary people and of all the Egyptian political parties who support the Syrian revolution. From Cairo, the office members would be connected with opposition in Syria and in the rest of the world in order to take the decisions of the council. Other offices must also be established in major capitals of the world. However, none of this has been implemented yet.”

Maleh has also criticized the fact that the executive office is still based in Istanbul. However, he paid tribute to the aid and support of Turkey. Maleh was also surprised that the council’s president is residing in Paris, while its official spokesman is moving between Bahrain and London.

What’s more, Maleh described the council’s members as “entertainers,” saying that “the executive office is supposed to meet for 24 hours, which has never happened. The office members do whatever they please.” He said that these were the reasons that pushed him to leave the council. He did not want to be a false witness to personal interests and benefits — “I did not seek to be part of a council that was just for show.”

Maleh also criticized Ghalioun’s performance, saying that he commonly would not consult anyone. He added that Ghalioun did not inform anyone of the speech he delivered at the Friends of Syria conference that took place in Tunisia in February. “He does not care about others. Working in the council is based on individual rather than collective work.”

Furthermore, Maleh insisted that he will continue to consult with all the opposition spectra and that the Council of Syrian Revolutionary Trustees will be based in Cairo. “We have no other choice. Our main objective is to preserve the victory of the revolution and to ensure the departure of the despotic regime. We want to prevent it from further sabotaging our country and we seek to destroy its arms, which were bought with the money of the Syrian people.”

Following his meeting with Arabi in the Arab League’s headquarters, Maleh told reporters that he explained to the secretary-general the idea of a “council of trustees” as part of a transitional government. He also called on all Syrian-opposition representatives to meet in the near future for a dialogue to address the ongoing crisis.

Maleh confirmed that he “does not favor the split within the opposition. On the contrary, I have worked for many months in order to unify the opposition. However, the SNC and the Coordination Body have yet to be prepared for such a step.

He also stressed that during the Syrian Opposition meeting that took place at the Arab League headquarters on July 2 and July 3, the Council of Syrian Revolutionary Trustees confirmed its commitment to the National Covenant and all other related documents pertinent to the transitional period.

Found in: syrian national council, syrian, haytham maleh, council of syrian revolutionary trustees, burhan ghalioun

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