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Inside Syria

Syria: An opposition divided?

We look at the internal divisions in the Syrian National Coalition as they wrestle for legitimacy.

Last Modified: 31 Mar 2013 11:20
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It has been a week of major developments in the Syrian conflict - on the ground and on the diplomatic front. The opposition coalition seemed on the verge of collapse after its president Ahmed Moaz al-Khatib offered his resignation only days before representing the coalition in the most recent Arab League summit.

"The divide within the coalition was whether to call this an interim government or an executive authority; it was over the semantics not the necessity of creating an executive authority that so required. But despite that he [al-Khatib] went along with the majority view and oversaw the process of selecting a designated interim prime minister."

- Najib Ghadbian; National Coalition of Syrian Revolution and Opposition Forces

Several opposition members have been calling for:

  • the restructuring of the Syrian National Coalition
  • completely abandoning the provisional government
  • establishing clear relationships with opposition parties and the Free Syrian army (FSA),
  • working on transforming the FSA into a national army with a high degree of discipline and combat readiness.

On Tuesday, Syria's main opposition group took a symbolic step forward when  al-Khatib formally took Syria's seat at Arab League summit in Doha, Qatar.

It was at the summit that the member states agreed that they can send weapons to fighters in Syria - if they choose to.

Meanwhile, Moaz al-Khatib has asked the US to protect rebel-held north using patriot missiles.

"We thank all the governments who supported us, but the role to be played by the United States is much bigger. I requested Mr Kerry to provide Patriot missiles to protect northern provinces," said al-Khatib. "We have requested NATO to spare the lives of innocent civilians. We do not wish to fight. We wish to protect civilians to restore the normal way of life."

To understand the reasons behind internal divisions inside the Syrian opposition, Inside Syria with presenter Hazem Sika discusses with guests: Najib Ghadbian; a representative of the National Coalition of Syrian Revolution and Opposition Forces in the UN; Robin Yassin-Kassab, a novelist and commentator; and Amr al-Azm, a professor of Middle East history and anthropology at Shawnee State University.

"A government is essential. One of the many dangers facing Syria now is splintering and warlordism, it seems that  the regime wants this solution - if the regime can't rule the whole of the country it would prefer to have a warlord system whereby Bashar al-Assad will survive as a warlord amongst many other warlords."

- Robin Yassin-Kassab, a novelist and commentator


FACTS ABOUT THE ARAB LEAGUE SUMMIT:

  • Syrian opposition representatives take country's seat at Arab summit
  • Syria was banned from Arab League in 2011 over its violent crackdown
  • Delegation led by Mouaz al-Khatib represented Syria at the summit
  • Mouaz al-Khatib resigned as Syrian National Coalition leader last week
  • Al-Khatib was frustrated with level of international aid for opposition
  • Syrian opposition seat at the summit is a diplomatic victory
  • Al-Khatib says US needs to play bigger role in ending Syrian war
  • Al-Khatib defended presence of foreign fighters in Syria 

 

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Source:
Al Jazeera
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