Fragmented Syrian Opposition Competes with SNC in Jordan

Article Summary
Elements of the Syrian opposition in Jordan are forming a body headed by defected Prime Minister Hijab to replace the Syrian National Council. Tamer al-Samadi reports that SNC leaders have criticized the meetings and told Hijab that the council remains the sole legitimate representative of the opposition.

High-level Syrian opposition sources told Al-Hayat that meetings between Syrian opposition forces, which have been taking place in the Jordanian capital of Amman for several days now, seek to unite and establish an overreaching framework to serve as a substitute for the Syrian National Council (SNC). This united front will be headed by the defected Syrian Prime Minister Riyad Hijab, who is currently in Amman.

Yasser Abboud, commander of field operations for the Free Syrian Army (FSA), who is currently in Amman, said that “the opposition meetings in the Jordanian capital that were launched last week are still ongoing.” In an exclusive interview with Al-Hayat, he said, “The ongoing meetings include politicians and military officers who defected from the criminal regime in Syria, in addition to some SNC members, who have personally attended the meetings.” Abboud stressed that the military leaders represent various cities and villages of the Damascus and Daraa governorates, the latter of which borders Jordan.

Abboud explained that the meetings seek to unify the ranks of the political and military opposition, and look into the possibility of establishing a political alternative to the SNC. Abboud, who is the leader of the group that succeeded in smuggling Hijab out of the country and into Jordan, said that “Hijab will be at the head of the new Syrian opposition entity, while defected Brig. Gen. Mohammed al-Hajj will head the FSA military and field leaderships, as well as the military and revolutionary councils. This new military entity, named the National Syrian Army, will be affiliated with the political leadership.

“These meetings are intended to unify the Syrian opposition at the political and military levels. We seek to address the world with one voice. We are counting on the support of our Arab brothers, along with that of all states that aspire to witness the birth of a new Syria, governed by freedom and dignity ... We will not gain the support of the world unless we are united within an overreaching framework. The efforts that are currently underway aim at speeding up efforts to save Syria, so that the great Syrian family will be reunited. We are fed up with all of the individual slogans and personal differences that affect various sectors of the fragmented opposition.”

Abboud spoke of what he called “guarantees” that were demanded by some states to “support the new birth.” However, he did not elaborate in detail. Abboud added that these states had stressed the need “to protect the rights of minorities,” which he considered to be “a demand that does not require any guarantee."

“We have agreed to the general guidelines of the next phase. However, we are still looking into the details … What matters now is to overthrow the regime as soon as possible. Regarding the upcoming phase, the Syrian public will have the final say in this matter,” he added.

In the same vein, Mohamed Inad, an SNC member and a member of the Supreme Council for the Revolutionary Command, told Al-Hayat that “the meetings in Amman seek to reorganize the ranks of the SNC and to oust some people and leaders who have proved disruptive to the paths of change.

“All of the ongoing meetings are in the best interest of the political and military opposition. We are seeking a realistic vision that would guarantee the ousting of the regime and accelerate steps to declare a transitional government that would include people of high competence and expertise,” he added. Furthermore, Inad said that “the meetings seek to unite the military battalions in Syria, as well as the sources of external funding.”

However, Abdul Salam al-Bitar, the secretary-general of the SNC’s regional office in Jordan, criticized the meetings, saying that they “are run from abroad.” Bitar said that talk of unifying the opposition is a “big lie” which aims to declare an interim government “led by former regime leaders who killed so many Syrian people before they defected from the regime.”

The Syrian opposition member said that SNC leaders “have sent a message to defected Prime Minister Hijab, stressing that the council is the sole legitimate representative of the opposition and that we will not allow former regime officials to hold positions of power during the next phase.”

Al-Hayat tried throughout the day yesterday [September 9] to obtain an official statement from the Jordanian government regarding the Syrian opposition’s meetings, but to no avail.

In a brief press statement released earlier, Jordanian government spokesman Minister Samih Maaytah said that “the meetings held by the Syrian opposition in Amman are not officially supported by the Jordanian government.”

Al-Hayat has already published information on meetings that were held in Jordan a few days ago between defected Syrian Brig. Gen. Manaf Tlass and other defected Syrian officers, in order to approve a new revolutionary strategy in preparation for operations against the regime.

According to some sources, international and regional efforts are being made in the meantime to ensure the success of the talks, which — according to sources — seek to establish a political framework for the various Syrian military forces and to develop plans to prevent the Syrian crisis from being exported to neighboring countries.

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Found in: syrian national council, syrian, snc, riad hijab, free syrian army, amman
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