Wednesday, August 1, 2012

New Syrian opposition alliance will try to form transitional government

Re A group of exiled Syrian activists announced a new opposition alliance on Tuesday that aims to form a transitional government inside Syria - a challenge to the Syrian National Council (SNC).
This undated picture shows Syrian Haytham al-Maleh
Haytham al-Maleh
Haytham al-Maleh, a lawyer and former judge, told a Cairo news conference called to unveil the new body: "I have been tasked with leading a transitional government." Maleh added that he will begin consultations "with the opposition inside and outside" the country.
Maleh said the new alliance would act as an alternative to the SNC which he said "had failed to help the Syrian revolution". It would work to get more help to rebels, he said.

Maleh, a long-standing dissident against the Assad family, resigned from the SNC in March, saying he had given up trying to make the group more effective.
"We are not asking for military intervention, such as an invasion, but international protection, such as stopping Syrian planes," he said.
The Council for the Syrian Revolution comprises 70 opposition figures and will be based in Cairo, with branches in Lebanon, Turkey, Jordan and Iraq. Al-Maleh, 81, is a laywer and human rights activist who has spent several years in prison in his homeland. He was jailed in October 2009 and released in March 2011 by presidential pardon, just days before the revolt against Assad erupted. Maleh has worked for Amnesty International since 1989 and helped found the Syrian Association for Human Rights.
He was also imprisoned in 1980 for six years along with a number of trade unionists and political dissidents.
The formation of the Syrian National Council is just one of several initiatives. On Monday, the Syrian rebel Free Syrian Army  (FSA) distributed what it called a "national salvation draft" proposal for a political transition, bringing together military and civilian figures. The draft by the joint command of FSA proposes the establishment of a higher defence council charged with creating a presidential council, which in turn would bring together six military and civilian figures to lead a future transition. The Joint Command is based in Homs and headed by Colonel Kassem Saadeddine. It has emerged as an increasingly influential coordinating body.

Syria's civil war has entered a far more violent phase since July 18 when a bomb killed four top members of President Bashar al-Assad's inner circle. Serious fighting reached Aleppo over the past week and rebels also launched an assault on the capital Damascus in July but were repulsed. The battle for Aleppo, Syria's largest city, has become a crucial test for both sides in the 16-month-old rebellion. Neither Assad's forces nor the rag-tag rebels can afford to lose if they hope to prevail in the wider struggle for Syria.

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