Syrian Opposition: Assad's Overthrow Wouldn't End Violence

Speaking to Mohammad al-Shazli, prominent Syrian opposition activist Haytham al-Manna said that the Syrian crisis must be solved politically and that a violent overthrow of the regime would only lead to more violence.

al-monitor Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov (L) shakes hands with Haytham al-Manna of Syria's National Coordination Body for Democratic Change during a meeting in Moscow, March 11, 2013. Photo by REUTERS/Maxim Shemetov.

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violence, syrian civil war, syrian opposition, syrian crisis, syrian, sectarianism, bashar al-assad

Apr 9, 2013

The head of the National Coordination Body for Democratic Change (NCC) in exile, Haytham al-Manna, said that the Syrian regime is seeking to “clone the Algerian solution” to solve the crisis in the country. He called on “friends” of the regime to pressure the regime for serious negotiations that can “rescue those whose hands haven't been stained with the blood of Syrians.”

In an interview with Al-Hayat, Manna added that the conflict could not be solved militarily. He said, “We have the choice of either the Somalization of the country or a political solution. We blame the regime for wanting to clone the Algerian solution; it will not succeed.” He added that the opposition “will not succeed in reaching a military solution.”

“Thus far, the regime has not made any progress toward serious negotiations," he said. "It is focusing on public relations and agreeing to anything it is offered. However, when it comes to implementation, there is no practical element to this approval."

Manna said he believed that without serious pressure by "friends of the regime" — such as Russia, China and Iran — on the regime for serious negotiations to rescue those whose hands haven't been stained with Syrian blood, the regime won't make "painful and necessary concessions in order to bring about democratic transition." Manna added that the regime will not transfer presidential power to a transitional government.

He said that a political solution means that parliamentary and democratic institutions must start working. Manna noted that Syria “needs 20 years to get rid of the problems caused by the cult of personality and the dictatorial regime.” Manna called on all parties that care about the Syrian people to stop supplying arms to any party. He explained that, according to American analysis, the regime can survive for another two years and that “the problem is that we've put the state and the regime in one box.”

Manna noted that army defections were decreasing, amid growing fears on the part of minorities due to the militancy and the “Islamization” of the opposition, a reference to the growing influence of the Muslim Brotherhood.

Manna said in response to a question: “I am convinced that the departure of President Bashar al-Assad would not spell the end of violence in Syria,” pointing out that “his violent overthrow will only lead to further violence.”

Manna said it is important that the joint UN-Arab League envoy continues with his mission. “At any negotiating stage we need a safety valve, and Lakhdar Brahimi represents this safety valve. We must keep him in place until the moment when he can act as mediator and as a person capable of intervening." Manna stressed that “Brahimi should not resign before this moment.”

Manna blamed both the government and the opposition for the current situation in Syria and the “spread of a dark atmosphere.”

“Everyone is currently contributing to the spread of this dark atmosphere at all levels of the situation in Syria,” he said, pointing out that the authorities “do not recognize the usefulness or benefit of any political development, but are rather clinging to the military security solution.”

He also pointed out that the opposition includes a group that “believes in the virtue of victory, and that victory is possible if they can avoid the weaknesses experienced by the armed movement over the past year and a half.” He added that “the political opposition has never been through a worse situation.”

He said the dialogue between the NCC and the Syrian National Coalition was between individuals, not an institutionalized dialogue, pointing to the fact that some forces from outside the coalition were present. He said the Brotherhood will not give up its privileges, and explained that “there have been no serious proposals on the part of the coalition; they have only offered a few seats within the coalition to other opposition forces that are not part of it.”

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