Wednesday 30 January 2013

War of words breaks out in Syrian opposition ranks

A serious war of words has broken out in the open among the topmost political echelons of the Syrian opposition.
The Syrian National Council (SNC) today publicly challenged a statement made overnight by Moaz el-Khatib, head of the Syrian National Coalition of Revolutionary and Opposition Forces, of which the SNC is the main component.
The SNC’s current chairman George Sabra is also vice-president of the Coalition.
The overt controversy broke out soon after Moaz el-Khatib posted overnight a statement on his personal Facebook page saying:
“I learned through the mass media the regime in Syria wants to open a dialogue with the opposition and the interior minister is inviting opposition leaders to return to Damascus.  
“Frankly, there’s no trust in a regime that kills children, attacks breadlines, bombs universities, destroys Syria’s infrastructure and commits gruesome massacres such as its latest in Aleppo, which is unparalleled in its savagery.
“The revolution goes on and time-wasting is over. But since the Syrian citizen is in such an unprecedented crisis -- and as a sign of goodwill in the quest for a political solution and in order to pave the way for a transition stage that would spare added bloodshed – I declare that I am prepared to sit face to face with Syrian regime representatives in Cairo or Tunis or Istanbul.
“Since the Syrian people’s freedom is non-negotiable, my preliminary condition to sit with regime representatives is:
“1. The release of 160,000 detainees, starting with the females and those held by Air Force Intelligence and in Sednaya prison, and
‘2. A directive to all regime embassies to either issue new passports to all Syrians whose passports have expired or extend for two years the validity of their existing ones.”
The SNC retorted today through an official statement posted in turn on its own Facebook page saying:
“Reference the remarks of Sheikh Ahmed Moaz el-Khatib, head of the Syrian National Coalition of Revolutionary and Opposition Forces, in which he mentions a conditional offer for negotiations with the Syrian regime, the SNC affirms that the remarks do not express the SNC position and are incompatible with the National Council’s statutes and Doha founding charter. These categorically rule out negotiations with the criminal regime and call for its removal along with all its symbols.
“The SNC reiterates its rejection of any settlement or negotiation with the Syrian regime. (Signed, SNC).”
Moaz el-Khatib threw down the gauntlet within hours, saying in part on his personal Facebook page:
“We don’t negotiate on the regime’s survival, but on its departure at the least possible cost in blood and destruction. But that was my personal opinion and I stand by my right to express it.
“Figures, organizations and states finding [my] view ill-suited have the right to express theirs too.
“The National Coalition’s provisional political bureau will be meeting tomorrow (Thursday) and will determine the National Coalition’s official position…”