Syrian rebels hope to form shadow assembly

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More than 200 members of Syrian opposition groups issued a declaration yesterday in Istanbul promising “a general assembly” to rule liberated areas of Syria.

“We announce here that revolution will no doubt succeed with all the sacrifices the Syrian people have made, despite the fact that they are being let down by the international community. But we believe in our ability to liberate most Syrian areas; we have already managed to liberate many areas, including the countryside of Damascus. From there arose the need to administer those liberated areas; to provide civilians security and stability and to provide their basic needs. Therefore the conference agreed on the need to set aside our ideological differences to agree on creating a general assembly-in-exile. It would be in the form of a transitional general assembly to grab more political support from the international and Arab community, in order to support the revolution,” the declaration read.

The declaration was written by consensus between the rebel Free Syrian Army, Syrian National Council, Kurdish National Council, Damascus Declaration, Muslim Brotherhood and Syrian Revolution General Commission. “All the attendees, who represent all the political parties of Syria, agreed that a general assembly should be held and from this, the general assembly-in-exile will be elected. Such a general assembly should be held inside Syria in liberated areas if possible. If not, a preparation committee can look for other options, such as other countries,” Radwan Ziadeh, the head of the Syrian Center for Political and Strategic Studies (SCPSS), said.

The opposition has already formed a preparatory committee to investigate the feasibility of an election. Ziadeh said many countries, including France, some Arab countries and others, have called the Syrian opposition to form a transitional general assembly to be recognized. “That’s what we are trying to do.”

‘Timing unclear’

Syria’s defected ambassador to Belarus, Farouk Taha, told the Hürriyet Daily News that 300 representatives from all Syrian provinces are expected to attend that assembly. “We hope to do it inside Syria.” Dr. Osama Qadi, another official from the think tank SCPSS, said the timing for launching the assembly was unclear.

Meanwhile, Syrian opposition leaders of all stripes will convene in Qatar next week to form a new leadership body to subsume the opposition Syrian National Council, the Foreign Policy magazine reported. According to the report, U.S. State Department has been heavily involved in crafting the new council as part of its effort oust Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and build a more viable and unified opposition as the current one is widely viewed as ineffective, consumed by infighting.

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