Hussein Al-Awdat, offficial spokesman for the Syrian opposition group “National Coordination Body for Democratic Change,” declared that the Syrian President’s speech was disappointing and did not meet the Syrian people’s aspirations.
El-Khabar What did you think of the fourth speech given by the Syrian President since the beginning of the crisis?
In sum, the speech was disappointing because it clarified that the Syrian regime refuses to take real [steps toward] change. [The regime] also refuses to acknowledge what is happening in the Syrian street and keeps on rejecting real dialogue and all possible solutions to get out of the crisis. The whole content of the speech affirms that the regime is determined to continue using the same methods and that it is content with its security-based approach [to the crisis].
El-Khabar In his speech, the president stated that the regime is ready for dialogue with the opposition if the latter is willing. Is President [Bashar al-Assad trying to divide the opposition]?
The problem does not reside within the [possibility] of division within the opposition. It rather lies within what the real meaning of the concept of the dialogue is for this regime. [The regime seems to] believe that dialogue will [comprise] a meeting with certain figures of the opposition where he will agree to appointment of some of them to his government. However, the Syrian opposition is not interested in ministerial seats as much as it cares about changing the situation in Syria and putting an end to the bloodshed. Hence, within our cooperative body, we believe that real dialogue requires a series of procedures to first place it in the right context. This include: The retreat of the army from cities, the release of detainees and the allowing of [non-violent] demonstrations, among others. The president’s speech mentioned terrorists, but not [non-violent] demonstrators. What he said is false and we cannot agree with him over it. We believe that it contradicts the notion of dialogue. The regime does not yet admit the existence of [peaceful] demonstrators who demand reform.
El-Khabar You said that the dialogue the Syrian regime is talking about would be limited to granting ministerial seats to the opposition. Does this mean that you have received such an offer?
Actually, we have not received any offer from the Syrian authorities. The point is that there have been other attempts [like this], or at least one over the past month. But we realized that this attempt aimed to [co-opting] the opposition into joining the regime - which we refuse to do.
El-Khabar Do you think that the position the regime made clear in the speech may unify the opposition’s points of view - namely those between the coordination body inside Syria and the Syrian National Council abroad?
We always seek to unify the Syrian opposition efforts, as this is in the public interest. We do believe that a road map must be agreed upon within the opposition, despite the failure of previous attempts to do so. We have stayed in touch with members of the council in order to achieve this goal.
El-Khabar Yet, is there still a dispute about foreign intervention and the position of the Free Syrian Army?
Our position in this regard has been clear since the beginning. We refuse military intervention in Syria because it will destroy, instead of serving, the Syrian people’s interest. Also, we have alternative solutions which we can use to put an end to this crisis without having recourse to this extreme action. As for the Free Syrian Army, we salute every soldier who refused to fire on civilians and who [deserted] from the Syrian Army. We understand their positions. But at the same time, we refuse that the Free Syrian Army replace the political authorities and that it decides by itself the destiny of the country.