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Damascus Opposition Conference Document Calls for ‘Ending Regime’

Damascus Opposition Conference Document Calls for ‘Ending Regime’

Friday, 26 March, 2021 - 08:30
View of the skyline of Damascus on June 26, 2013. (AFP)

The founding conference of the opposition “National Democratic Front” will demand an “end to the ruling Syrian regime and all of its symbols and elements”, revealed its draft statement.

The conference will be held on Friday at the Damascus residence of the General Coordinator of the National Coordination Committee, Hassan Abdulazim.

Participants will commit to the formation of a “transitional authority with full jurisdiction” in line with the 2012 Geneva declaration and relevant international resolutions.

Asharq Al-Awsat received a copy of the draft statement, which also calls for the “restructuring of the security agencies and building of a national army” and the “withdrawal of all non-Syrian armies and militias”.

Some 120 participants from 18 political forces are expected to take part in Friday’s conference. Among them are members of the National Coordination Committee, which was formed in 2011 and had taken part in the Riyadh-hosted opposition conference in late 2015.

‘All elements and symbols’

The conference will kick off with an opening session that will be attended by representatives of Arab and foreign embassies.

A leading Syrian opposition member revealed that the Iranian mission was not invited to the meeting because it has become biased to the regime. Iran was invited to the national salvation conference that was held in late 2012.

After the opening session, participants will discuss the draft political document that was approved by a preparatory committee in late 2020. They will ultimately aim to form a “broad national democratic front, which is a pressing need to ensure the success of the national political path to end the Syrian crisis.”

The political path must be based on relevant international resolutions, especially the Geneva declaration and United Nations Security Council resolution 2254. “This will ensure the end of the dictatorial regime and all its symbols and foundations. It will help pave the way for change, the democratic shift and building of a modern democratic state based on justice, laws and elected institutions.” The state should be neutral towards all religions and affiliations and prioritize national loyalty and equality to every Syrian without discrimination based on religion, ethnicity, race, gender, sect or political affiliation.

No security solution

The document blamed the crisis on the failure to build a democratic civilian state, which ensures equality, freedom and justice among its people. This crisis worsened with a dictatorial regime that feeds off oppression and corruption that have existed for decades. The crisis further deepened when the regime turned to the security and military option to quell the Syrian people’s peaceful revolt in 2011.

The revolt started off as a national democratic revolution that sought freedom and progress, but instead yielded militarization and extremism, which destroyed the Syrian people and their cities, infrastructure and social fabric and aborted the political solution, read the statement.

The political solution “is the only viable one that would avert our country dangers and achieve the aspirations of our people for radical regime change and a shift towards democracy.” This demands an “end to the fighting and military operations throughout Syrian territory.” The UN must supervise the process. It also demanded the release of prisoners of conscience from regime jails and a pardon to all political prisoners held inside Syria and outside the country. It demanded that the fate of people who have died under torture and who have been forcibly disappeared since 1980 be revealed.

Moreover, the document demanded the withdrawal of all non-Syrian armies and militias from Syria. It urged the dismantling of militias and their disarmament, restructuring of the security agencies and building of a national army. They alone will be responsible for protecting the nation and people and they should be kept away from political and partisan work.

Transitional authority

The first step to achieving these goals lies in holding the founding conference of the National Democratic Front to form a broader alliance. It will be followed up with an expanded conference that includes all national democratic opposition forces.

The transitional phase will see the hosting of a general national conference that represents all segments of Syrian society with the aim of approving a national charter that includes essential principles to resolve all issues, read the document.

These principles stipulate that Syria is a part of the Arab world and founding member of the Arab League and that liberating occupied Syrian territories should take place through all legitimate means and should remain a top national priority for the people.

The Kurdish issue should be resolved through democratic and constitutional means and recognize the Kurds’ national, cultural and social rights within a sovereign and united Syria.

Kurdish parties have been invited to Friday’s conference and meetings have been held with the Syrian Democratic Council – the political arm of the Syrian Democratic Forces – to reach an agreement over these general principles. Sticking points related to the fate of the SDF and the autonomous Kurdish administration had emerged during negotiations.

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