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ORIGINAL FRENCH ARTICLE: "Il faut surmonter les divisions de l’opposition"

by Pierre Barbancey

Syria: "The Opposition’s Divisions Must Be Overcome"

Translated Sunday 29 January 2012, by Isabelle Métral and reviewed by Pauline Harrowell

An international lawyer, Khaled Issa was one of the speakers at the CAPE (centre for the foreign press) in Paris last Monday, where he met l’Humanité’s correspondent. In this interview he denounces Qatar’s and Turkey’s pressures on their allies.

HUMA: Is the threat of a military intervention in Syria real?

ISSA: Not for the time being. Turkey was the only actor at first and did plan a military intervention in Syria, especially by taking advantage of the West’s attitude in Libya. But Turkey soon realized how difficult the aftermath would be for itself, notably at home. No option is ruled out for the future but this one is shelved for the time being, by Turkey as well as by the regional and Western powers.

HUMA: What are the possible ways out of the crisis?

ISSA: The Arab League’s initiative must be supported. Parallel to this, the different components of the opposition must be called upon to unite around a common platform that would give reassurance to the silent majority in Syria, and guarantee the rights of minorities, notably because the Alawis, Christians, Ismaelis, Druze, Kurds do not want a project like Turkey’s (the coming into office of Sunni Islamists – Editor’s Note) to take place in Syria.

HUMA: Two weeks ago an agreement was signed in Cairo between the Syrian National Council (CNS) and the National Coordination of Democratic Forces mainly composed of Leftist forces. But it has since been denounced by the CNS. Is it difficult for the Syrian opposition to unite?

ISSA: Yes, that’s the problem. This is due to the regional powers’ attitude. Turkey and Qatar are pressurizing their allies in the CNS, notably Basma Qadmani, its spokesperson, and Burhan Ghalioun, CNS’ number one, both of whom had taken part in the signature of that accord.

HUMA: So there is a risk that the Muslim Brothers will dominate the opposition?

ISSA: They are dominating it right now. Parallel to this, Turkey militarizes the opposition in order that an armed branch can support the Muslim Brotherhood. But the NSC is not the only branch of the opposition. There is the National Coordination of Democratic Forces, which is based in Syria (Editor’s Note) and represents Leftist forces, personalities, sixteen political parties. This coordination, the SNC and other forces, like the Kurdish National Council can represent an alternative to the current government and curb the influence of the Muslim Brothers.

HUMA: And strangely enough, there are not so many defections in the government’s camp?

ISSA: The opposition’s program does not give enough guarantees to defectors. Moreover, Westerners fear Syria’s collapse, which might have extremely negative consequences in the region, notably for Iraq, Lebanon, and Israel.

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