11:20 AM - 12 Nov 12 · Details
OPPOSITION COALITION OF DISPARATE GROUPS FORMS SUCCESSFULLY UNDER MODERATE ISLAMIST LEADER TO FIGHT ASSAD:
TIMELINE – 12th NOVEMBER 2012 14.45 GMT:
After 4 days of wrangling in Doha, Qatar, fractious Syrian Opposition groups eventually got together yesterday, Sunday, to agree an executive and to appoint a president and vice-presidents for the new overriding body, the Syrian National Coalition for Opposition and Revolutionary Forces (SNCORF).
The new President, elected unanimously, is a reformist cleric, Mouaz al-Khatib, who was previously detained by the Assad regime several times for his pro-change views when he was an imam at the Umayyad Mosque in Damascus. He finally left Syria 3 months ago.
As well as being an imam, activist and lecturer, having spoken in the UK and the US, Khatib is also a trained geologist who previously worked for an oil company.
Speaking after his appointment he called on soldiers to quit the Syrian Army and for all sects and religions to unite, saying, “We demand freedom for every Sunni, Alawi, Ismaili (Shi’ite), Christian, Druze, Assyrian … and rights for all parts of the harmonious Syrian people.”
His Vice-Presidents will be Riad Seif, who proposed the new Opposition group, and a well-known female dissident, Suhair al-Atassi.
A third vice-presidential chair has been left open for a member of the Kurdish community.
Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim al-Thani, the Prime Minister of Qatar, who hosted the gathering, said, “We will strive from now on to have this new body recognised completely by all parties … as the sole legitimate representative of the Syrian people.” Al Jazeera has a video overview of the conference, HERE:
Turkey’s Foreign Minister, Ahmed Davutoglu, who attended the final session said that there was “no excuse any more” for foreign governments not to support an opposition whose internal divisions had given many pause.
Businessman Mustafa Sabbagh will act as the organisation’s General Secretary and in an agreed document all Opposition parties have committed to work “for the fall of the regime and of all its symbols and pillars,” and have completely ruled out any dialogue with Assad’s government.
Once the new Coalition gains international recognition, they will form a provisional-government-in-waiting and when the regime falls, a provisional government eventually leading to elections.
Additionally, the Coalition aims to set up a military council, which will eventually be a defence ministry, a judicial body and a temporary cabinet.
UK STEPS FORWARD TO HOST IMMEDIATE MEETING TO DISCUSS “FURTHER SUPPORT FOR THE SYRIAN OPPOSITION”:
Qatar’s Prime Minister said after the meeting that his country, Saudi Arabia and the UAE, have all made “solid promises” to help the Opposition fighters to at least defend themselves against regime planes, helicopters and airstrikes, and the Coalition is hoping that other countries will now follow suit. The BBC has an audio analysis, HERE:
Tentative recognition has already come from the US, UK, France, Germany, Italy and a number of Arab states and the new leadership of the Coalition is already on its way to Cairo to seek approval from the Arab League later today.
Following positive noises by the UK’s PM, David Cameron, and his Defence Chief of Staff, Sir David Richards, over the weekend, that there are circumstances in which it would be right to arm Syria’s Opposition forces, UK Foreign Minister, William Hague announced that he will be attending a joint EU/Arab League meeting in Cairo tomorrow, Tuesday, to discuss support for the new Coalition.
Hague also announced a meeting in London this Friday, in which “donors and coalition representatives which will consider further support to the Syrian opposition at this critical time”.
Interesting interactive map showing which Opposition brigades are fighting in which areas and to whom they are affiliated, HERE:
ASSAD’S ANGRY RESPONSE TO OPPOSITION UNITY SUCCESS IS MORE SHELLING, AIR ATTACKS, LOOTING AND BURNING:
As if in an angry response to the apparent success of the Opposition conferences in Doha, the Assad regime launched a barrage of shells and rockets against the southern suburbs of Damascus, particularly targeting al-Tadamon in the area of Falasteen Street and the Yarmouk Palestinian refugee camp nearby.
Interesting video showing theft and looting by the Syrian Army on a major scale in the Damascus suburb of Daraya, HERE:
This was also Daraya after the Syrian Army left on Saturday, having set fire to the area, HERE: