A number of groups of opposition fighters on the ground in Syria have condemned the main opposition coalition group The Syrian National Coalition (SNC) for failing to represent the Syrian revolution. The SNC has been meeting in İstanbul for the last one week, but has so far failed to reach consensus on the extent of the bloc's enlargement and a peace conference in June. In a statement the groups said that in order to be really representative of the Syrian opposition the SNC should choose no less than 50% of its leadership from the groups who are struggling inside Syria, instead of haggling about the inclusion or non inclusion of members of liberal groups.
The SNC began their
meeting last Thursday, expecting to address the expansion of the
coalition, its participation in the planned peace conference headed by
Russia and the United States, its new leadership and finally forming a
cabinet of ministers for interim Prime Minister Ghassan Hitto's
government. However, the 60-member-bloc has so far failed to tackle its
agenda or make any decisions due to the division between liberals and
Islamists and their competition for membership in the coalition.
The meeting that was expected to only last
three days, still failed on Wednesday, its seventh day, to
come to any conclusions on agenda items. Many important members did not even attend the meeting anymore. Coalition insiders told the Anatolia news agency that former president of
the coalition Mouaz al-Khatib, vice-presidents Suhair al-Atassi and Riad
Seif and senior coalition members Walid al-Bunni, Haytham Malih, Louay
Safi and Burhan Galioun did not attend Wednesday's session. (However Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu, as well as former French ambasssador to Damascus Eric Chevalier, U.S. Ambassador to Damascus Robert Ford, and Saudi Deputy Foreign Minister Salman bin Sultan did attend in order to try to bridge the divisons in the SNC).
Monday morning the SNC members agreed to include eight more members to the 60-member body --
six from the liberal bloc. But the enlargement discussion is not over
after the liberal bloc voiced its dissatisfaction. The liberal bloc, led by veteran opposition figure Michel Kilo, had
demanded that 22 of its members be included in the coalition, but were
given only 6 seats. But their attempt, which was backed by the the US an the West in general, was blocked by a Qatari backed block in which the Muslim Brotherhood has a final say. The liberal camp deliberated on Monday whether to
withdraw from the coalition. There were reports that two of the liberal members withdrew their membership in protest. Kamal al-Labwani, an ally of Kilo and a senior member of the
coalition, had already left İstanbul in protest at what he regarded as
the domination of Qatari-backed coalition Secretary-General Mustafa
al-Sabbagh, Reuters reported.
The statement said about the attempt to broaden the coalition that it was 'no more than a feeble attempt to
add persons and groups that have no real impact on the revolution'. It said that the groups 'rejected this attempt”and in its place demanded representation in the
coalition's leadership. “Our political representation should occupy no
fewer than 50 percent of the seats in the [coalition] and its leadership
bureaus,” according to the revolutionary forces, who added that this was “a final warning” for the coalition. The statement was signed “The Revolutionary Movement in Syria” and among the groups that issued it were The
Syrian Revolution General Commission, the Local Coordination Committees in
Syria, the Syrian Revolution Coordinators' Union and the Supreme Council for
the Leadership of the Syrian Revolution. The Turkish Daily Hürriyet added that the protest by the groups amounted to an ultimatum of 24 hours to the NSC to include members of the groups inside Syria in its ranks.