I Googled “Syrian opposition statement” this morning after hearing last night’s news about the two-day meeting of 250 delegates of Syria’s opposition groups in Cairo.
More than 90 percent of the 41,000-plus results I got led off with news of “chaos,” “fights,” “quarreling,” “rifts” and “divisions” at the meeting.
How wrong and unprofessional!
I read maybe 50 of the news items to find exactly what the Syrian opposition groups' closing statement said. All I could find was disparate and vague references to the final communiqué.
I repeated my Google search in Arabic and finally found the full text of the statement in Arabic.
I decided to abridge it in English for the benefit of the non-Arab “Friends of Syria” and “Action Group for Syria” and above all the readers of ArabSaga.
The road to a new democratic, pluralistic and civilian Syria is two-phased.
The first phase is that of struggle to overthrow Bashar al-Assad and his clique. The second transition phase spans the period between their overthrow and the election of a president and parliament – as per a new constitution for the Syrian State – and the emergence of a new government representing the elected parliament.
Both phases require mutually agreed political, legal, security, economic and social measures by opposition forces.
1. The regime overthrow phase
The Syrian people’s sacrifices and sufferings in their quest for freedom and dignity can’t be offset except by the regime’s removal.
A solution in Syria must thus begin with the removal of Assad and his proxies and the holding to account of all those responsible for the killing of Syrians.
Opposition forces need to close ranks at all levels to bring down the regime as soon as possible. They agree to support the Free Syrian Army and endeavor to unify FSA forces and leaderships. They are also urged to protect civil and national peace.
2. The transition phase
This phase shall commence the moment Bashar and his inner circles are removed. It shall end with the election of a free legislative assembly as per a new and permanent constitution.
Immediately after Assad and the symbols of his rule are removed, the current government and People’s Assembly shall be disbanded.
At the same time, a Caretaker Government shall be named by the consensual agreement of the political and revolutionary opposition, the de facto authority on the ground and those whose hands are not stained with Syrian blood and the looting of public funds.
The Caretaker Government shall remain in office until a Transitional Government is set up.
On assuming office, the Caretaker Government shall order the dissolution of the Baath Party and its offshoots and the impounding of the party’s assets. Its members can engage in political activity in accordance with the new laws.
A broad national conference, bringing together all political forces and components of society without exception, shall be convened in Damascus in order to put in place a Provisional Legislative Assembly – or “Public Assembly for Defending the Revolution’s Objectives and the Democratic Transition” – as well as a Transitional Government consisting of competent figures known for their integrity.
The Provisional Legislative Assembly shall issue a constitutional declaration concerning the status of the Presidency in the transitional phase, the Supreme Judicial Council, the National Security Council, the Higher Audit and Reconciliation Council and the General Authority for Social Compensation and Reconstruction.
The said (legislative) assembly shall oversee the Executive branch and issue temporary laws regulating public life during the transition as concerns freedom of information, the rights to demonstrate and form political parties, labor unions and associations.
It would abrogate all discriminatory decrees and legislation against Kurdish, Turkmen and Assyrian citizens and all other hues of Syrian society.
It would also pass a new electoral law for the Constituent Assembly and the blueprint of a Permanent Constitution.
Within a year of its formation, the Provisional Legislative Assembly shall, in tandem with the Caretaker Government, organize the election of a Constituent Parliament to approve the draft constitution and put it to a referendum within a maximum of six months.
Once the Constituent Parliament is elected, the Provisional Legislative Assembly shall be disbanded and a new government formed on the basis of the ballot box majority.
Regarding military and security matters
Once Assad and the symbols of his rule are removed, honest members of the regular army whose hands are not stained with Syrian blood, the FSA and the Armed Resistance shall sign a memorandum of understanding covering the ceasefire, the army’s return to barracks and management of national and civil peace. The National Security Council could oversee this if necessary.
The Transitional Government shall set up a National Security Council commanded by the Chief Executive with the assistance of honest members of the regular army whose hands are not stained with Syrian blood, the FSA and the Armed Resistance as well as relevant civilian figures.
The National Security Council shall undertake to restructure the armed forces and security services that would fall under its jurisdiction in order to purge lawbreakers from the said forces and services and break up the armed militias known as “shabiha.”
It would supervise the disarming of civilians and the enrollment of willing revolutionaries in the armed forces.
Concerning justice during the transition
A General Assembly for Accountability and Reconciliation shall be established under the jurisdiction of the provisional-cum-permanent Legislative Assembly. It would:
§ Seek justice and reparations for citizens whose human rights were systematically violated.
§ Document and publicize facts relating to perpetrators of crimes against humanity.
§ Strive to prevent new human rights abuses, restore citizens’ trust in state institutions and cement national reconciliation at the national and local levels.
§ Address the individual and collective aftereffects of violence, repression and oppression and provide psychological care for women, children and other violence victims.
§ Repeal discriminatory laws and prejudicial regulations affecting those displaced from the Golan and victims of the Kurdish uprising.
§ Do away with the aftereffects of unfair and bigoted laws and policies aimed at Syria’s Kurdish people.
§ Establish an independent tribunal to try crimes committed by regime leaders.
Concerning economic and social affairs
The planned General Authority for Social Compensation and Reconstruction would be under the control of the provisional-cum-permanent Legislative Assembly.
It shall endeavor to compensate victims of the current events, rebuild destroyed private properties and indemnify martyrs’ families, detainees, the wounded and disabled and return the displaced persons and refugees to their homes.
All foreign and international aid would go to the aforementioned General Authority in coordination with donors.
Immediately after Assad’s removal, a request would be made for the lifting of all sanctions clamped on Syria and on Syrian institutions and an application would be made for the recovery of Assad regime funds seized overseas…