Syrian National Council

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Syrian National Council
المجلس الوطني السوري
Al-Majlis al-Waṭanī as-Sūri
Syrian National Council logo.png
Abbreviation SNC
Formation 23 August 2011 (2 year ago)
Purpose/focus Opposition to the Syrian Government
Headquarters Istanbul
Location Turkey
Region served Syria
Membership 420 members
(Since 1 November 2012)
Chairman/President George Sabra[1]
Executive Board George Sabra
Abdulbaset Sieda
Mohamad Faruq Tayfur
Ahmad Ramadan
Hisham Marwah
Salem al-Musallat
Hussein al-Said
Abdulahad Astepho
Jamal al-Wared
Nazir al-Hakim
Khaled al-Saleh
Spokesperson Radwan Ziadeh
Website www.syriancouncil.org

The Syrian National Council (Arabic: المجلس الوطني السوري‎, al-Majlis al-Waṭanī as-Sūri, French: Conseil national syrien) sometimes known as SNC,[2][3] the Syrian National Transitional Council,[4] or the National Council of Syria is a coalition of Syrian opposition groups based in Istanbul, Turkey. It formed as a Syrian opposition coalition in 2011 during the Syrian civil war against the government of Bashar al-Assad.[5][6] After the formation, the council itself asked for international recognition, but denied seeking to play the role of a government in exile,[7] but this changed a few months later, when violence in Syria became increasingly intense.[8][9][10] The Syrian National Council seeks the end of Bashar al-Assad's rule and the establishment of a modern, civil, democratic state. The SNC National Charter lists human rights, judicial independence, press freedom, democracy and political pluralism as its guiding principles.[11]

In November 2012, the Council agreed to unify with several other opposition groups to form the National Coalition for Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces with the SNC having 22 out of 60 seats.[12][13][14]

The Council withdrew from the Coalition on 20 January 2014 in protest at the decision of the coalition to attend the Geneva talks.[15]

History[edit]

When the Arab Spring broke out, Syrian protesters began consolidating numerous opposition councils. The SNC's formation was announced in the city of Istanbul, Turkey on 23 August 2011, after a succession of meetings in Turkey and elsewhere. Its intended purpose is to "represent the concerns and demands of the Syrian people".[5][6] Though its members are not elected by the Syrian people themselves. The creation of the SNC was celebrated by the Syrian protestors since the Friday protest following its establishment was dubbed "The Syrian National Council Represents Me".[16][17] Yaser Tabbara, the council's spokesman at that time, said the membership of the council would include 115 to 120 members from all Syrian opposition groups, including the now defunct National Council of Syria. It has so far unveiled the names of 71 members, mostly living outside Syria. On 2 October 2011, the council formally declared its organizational affiliations and structure, to include a General Assembly, a General Secretariat and an Executive Board.[18][19] On 20 January 2014, the Council announced that it was leaving the Syrian National Coalition because participating in the talks would go backwards on its stance "to not enter negotiations" until president al-Assad left office.[20]

Membership[edit]

Bassma Kodmani (L), Burhan Ghalioun (C) and Haitham al-Maleh (R) at SNC's first congress in Tunis, 19 December 2011.

The SNC's membership includes many members of the exiled Syrian wing of the Muslim Brotherhood,[21] and is supported by the Damascus Declaration's exile wing,[22] the Assyrian Democratic Organization,[citation needed] some Kurdish dissidents,[citation needed] and the Local Coordination Committees,[citation needed] a group involved in advertising and coordinating demonstrations. The SNC itself claims to represent approximately 60 percent of the Syrian opposition.[7] The only Kurdish party from inside Syria to have declared itself an affiliate of the SNC is the Kurdish Future Movement Party under the leadership of Mashaal Tammo, who was assassinated shortly after the announcement in the northeastern city of Qamishli.[23] Adib Shishakly is a founding member.

Paris-based Syrian academic Burhan Ghalioun has served as its most prominent spokesperson and was named in September 2011 as chair of the council.[24][25] Former Muslim Brotherhood leader Ali Sadr el-Din Bayanouni stated that Ghalioun was chosen because he “is accepted in the West and at home and, to prevent the regime from capitalizing on the presence of an Islamist at the top of the SNC.”[26][27]

On 10 June 2012, a new leader for Syrian National council was elected. Swedish based Abdulbaset Sida, a Kurd, will take over for three months after Burhan Ghalioun was forced away.[28]

Plagued with internal conflict, the SNC on March 13, 2012 saw three prominent members resigning, giving as their reason that the SNC "had not gotten very far in working to arm the rebels,". The three were Haitham al-Maleh, a former judge and long-standing dissident, Islamist-leaning liberal and opposition leader Kamal al-Labwani and human rights lawyer Catherine al-Talli.[29][30] Their reasons for resigning were that the SNC is corrupt, a liberal front for the Muslim Brotherhood and had not made significant progress in arming the rebels.[29][31] One secular member of the SNC claimed that more than half of the council are Islamists.[32]

On March 27, 2012, the recently resigned members, including Maleh and Labwani, agreed to rejoin the SNC, under the condition that SNC would agree to be more democratic and expand, although Labwani expressed doubts whether the opposition would be able to hold together, but said that for now their accord will help Arab and Western governments make Assad stop his brutal repression. Abdual al-Haj of the SNC said that “now the international community no longer has an excuse to withhold support for the revolution, help arm the Free Syrian Army and establish safe zones to protect the civilian Syrian population.”[33] This happened at a meeting in Istanbul called by Turkey and Qatar. Despite the National Coordination Committee not attending and the Kurdish delegation as well as an unnamed senior dissident walking out, the BBC reported from the meeting that "[a]ll but one of Syria's disparate opposition groups have agreed to unite behind the Syrian National Council."[34]

The SNC, despite having had a Kurdish chairman, does not have Kurdish nationalist members. Abdulhakim Bashar, Secretary-General of the Kurdish Democratic Party of Syria, claims the SNC is too "much influenced by Turkey" and demanded guarantees for the Kurds in Syria by the SNC and says that Turkey would, in turn, be obliged to grant full rights to Turkey's Kurds.[35]

Political positions[edit]

On October 28, 2011, the SNC expressed worries about the Libyan scenario (with the violent overthrow of Muammar Gaddafi) being reiterated in Syria. It warned against a militarization of the conflict and insisted that the revolution was not sectarian but included all factions of the Syrian society. It also put its hopes in the multiplications of acts of civil disobedience as they “can be generalized, developed and expanded. This is because they are peaceful. These will be supported by businesses and others who are afraid of the costs of war. Peaceful methods are generalizable.”[36]

However, the SNC came to review its position on the peaceful nature of the uprising. According to the SNC, the opposition is now faced with two options: "greater militarization of local resistance or foreign intervention." With China and Russia veto impeding a Security Council resolution, the international intervention scenario is unlikely to unfold.[37] As a result, in the context of increasing defections in the military and the escalating violence in Syria, the SNC and the Free Syrian Army struck a deal in January 2012, recognizing the units of anti-government rebels fighting in Syria. The SNC said that it was the duty of the opposition "to assist the rebels." While the SNC asserted that it would not provide arms directly to the Free Syrian Army, it will provide funds to "keep the Free Syrian Army afloat." For this reason, donations can be made on the SNC website.[38]

Support and recognition[edit]

Prior to joining the National Coalition for Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces, the Syrian National Council had been recognised as the legitimate representative of the Syrian people by several UN member states.

On 6 March 2013, the Syrian National Coalition was granted Syria's seat in the Arab League.[39]

Syrian Patriotic Group[edit]

On 27 February Haitham al-Maleh and Kamal al-Labwani along with 18 other members of the SNC formed a sub-group called the Syrian Patriotic Group. The leading activists of the SNC consider many of the SNC members to be too slow in taking action, and so the group is designed so that while still remaining SNC members, the 20 leading activists would speed up "backing the national effort to bring down the regime with all available resistance means including supporting the Free Syrian Army".[40]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Syrian opposition head wants no-strings aid - Middle East". Al Jazeera English. Retrieved 2014-01-04. 
  2. ^ Skelton, Charlie (12 July 2012). "The Syrian opposition: who's doing the talking?". The Guardian. Retrieved 14 July 2012. 
  3. ^ the CNN Wire Staff (23 August 2011). "Syrian activists form a 'national council'". CNN. Retrieved 24 August 2011. 
  4. ^ "Arab League under pressure, resists freezing Syria membership". Al Ahram. 12 November 2011. Retrieved 21 December 2011. 
  5. ^ a b Yezdani, Ipek (23 August 2011). "Syrian dissidents form national council". World Wires (Miami Herald Media). Retrieved 24 August 2011. [dead link]
  6. ^ a b Yezdani, İpek (2011-08-23). "Syrian dissidents form national council". The Edmond Sun. Retrieved 2011-11-19. 
  7. ^ a b "Syrian council wants recognition as voice of opposition". Reuters. 2011-10-10. Retrieved 2011-11-19. 
  8. ^ "Syrian National Council, Syria's rebel government, opens offices in Turkey". Global Post. 2011-12-15. Retrieved 2011-12-21. 
  9. ^ "Syrian National Council Holds First Congress in Tunis". Tunisia Live. 2011-12-16. Retrieved 2011-12-21. 
  10. ^ "Why Syria’s Kurds Will Determine the Fate of the Revolution". IKJNEWS. 2011-12-15. Retrieved 2011-12-21. 
  11. ^ "Q&A: Syrian opposition alliance". BBC News. 16 November 2011. 
  12. ^ AP 4:15 p.m. EST November 11, 2012 (2012-11-11). "Syrian opposition groups reach unity deal". Usatoday.com. Retrieved 2014-01-04. 
  13. ^ "Syrian opposition groups sign coalition deal - Middle East". Al Jazeera English. Retrieved 2014-01-04. 
  14. ^ Gamal, Rania El. "Syrian opposition agrees deal, chooses preacher as leader". Reuters. Retrieved 2014-01-04. 
  15. ^ "Main bloc quits Syrian National Coalition over Geneva". The Times of Israel. 21 January 2014. Retrieved 20 January 2014. 
  16. ^ Sarra Grira (13/01/2012) “Cracks emerge in Syrian opposition amid ongoing anti-government protests”, France 24.
  17. ^ Amal Hanano (April 18, 2012) “Any given Friday”, Foreign Policy.
  18. ^ Syrian National Council official website. "Executive Committee". Public Statement. 
  19. ^ "Syria opposition launches national council in İstanbul". Todayszaman.com. Retrieved 2011-11-19. 
  20. ^ "Syrian National Council quits opposition coalition". Agence France Presse. 20 January 2014. Retrieved 23 January 2014. 
  21. ^ Feb 27, 2012 (2012-02-27). "Free Article for Non-Subscriber". Stratfor. Retrieved 2014-01-04. 
  22. ^ http://www.foreignpolicy.com/files/fp_uploaded_documents/110916_About%20SNC.pdf
  23. ^ "Syrian Kurdish Activist Meshal Tammo killed in Qamishli". DayPress. 2011-10-07. Retrieved 2011-11-19. 
  24. ^ "Sorbonne professor appointed head of Syrian opposition council". RIA Novosti. 29 August 2011. Retrieved 29 August 2011. 
  25. ^ "Syrian opposition launches joint National Council". BBC News. 2 October 2011. Retrieved 17 October 2011. 
  26. ^ “Al-Bayanuni Unmasks the Syrian National Council and Burhan Ghalioun”, YouTube. Retrieved 2012-01-21.
  27. ^ "Yahoo News - Latest News & Headlines". M.yahoo.com. 2013-12-10. Retrieved 2014-01-04. 
  28. ^ Youcefi, Fouad (10 June 2012). "Assad står på sitt sista ben" [Assad standing on his final leg] (in Swedish). SVT Nyheter. Archived from the original on 10 June 2012. Retrieved 10 June 2012. 
  29. ^ a b "Syrian army overruns Idlib as leading figures quit rebel council citing ‘chaos’". Dubai, United Arab Emirates: Al-Arabiya. March 14, 2012. Retrieved March 15, 2012. 
  30. ^ Balmer, Crispian; Evans, Dominic (March 15, 2012). "Pro-Assad rallies mark anniversary of Syria revolt". London: Reuters. Retrieved March 15, 2012. 
  31. ^ By LEE KEATH and ZEINA KARAM March 21, 2012 6:03 PM (2012-03-21). "Islamists seek influence in Syria uprising - Yahoo News". News.yahoo.com. Retrieved 2014-01-04. 
  32. ^ "Syria opposition's SNC seeks backers but lacks leaders". Reuters. 17 February 2012. 
  33. ^ "Arab ministers to debate Syria draft at Baghdad meet; Assad opponents join forces". Al Arabiya. March 28, 2012. Retrieved March 28, 2012. 
  34. ^ "Opposition unite behind Syrian National Council". BBC. March 28, 2012. Retrieved March 28, 2012. 
  35. ^ Syrian Kurd Leader: Revolution Won't Succeed Without Minorities, The Atlantic, 20 January 2012
  36. ^ Blaser, Noah. "In fight against Assad, Syrian opposition looks for its own model of revolution". Article. Today's Zaman. 
  37. ^ Marquand, Robert (27 January 2012). "Syria's opposition concerned about independent armed rebel groups". the Christian Science Monitor. 
  38. ^ Donations Page, Syrian National Council. Retrieved 2012-01-21.
  39. ^ "Twitter / AP: BREAKING: Arab foreign ministers". Twitter.com. Retrieved 2014-01-04. 
  40. ^ http://english.alarabiya.net/articles/2012/02/27/197219.html

External links[edit]