Syria Dissidents Strike Unity Deal
[An Nahar] Syrian opposition factions which agreed on Sunday in Qatar to form a new coalition to fight Hereditary President-for-Life Bashir
| What's the over/under on the start of infighting? A day, a week, or a month?|
Supressor of the Damascenes...
have elected holy man Ahmed al-Khatib to head the bloc, dissidents said.
Khatib, a moderate originally from Damascus
...Capital of the last overtly fascist regime in the world...
who quit Syria three months ago, will lead the National Coalition of Forces of the Syrian Revolution and Opposition, formed after the Syrian National Council agreed to the new group.
Prominent dissident Riad Seif, who had tabled an initiative to unite the opposition, and female opponent Suhair al-Atassi, were elected as two vice presidents of the coalition.
The SNC had come under intense Arab and Western pressure to accept the unity plan amid growing frustration among other dissident groups.
The inked agreement stipulates that the bloc will be open to all factions, and will form a provisional government after gaining international recognition.
It will also support the unification of the revolutionary military councils, and will work for the fall of the regime and to dismantle the security organs
Former Syrian Prime Minister Riad Hijab who defected in August hailed the agreement as "an advanced step towards toppling the regime."
Participants in marathon talks in Qatar said the latest were centered on details of a planned new government-in-waiting, but that the Syrian National Council had now heeded Arab and Western calls to join a new, wider coalition.
Reservations in SNC ranks about what many members saw as a move to sideline it had prompted repeated delays in the Doha talks and mounting frustration among other dissident groups and the opposition's Arab and Western supporters.
But after negotiations that ran into the early hours of Sunday and resumed in the afternoon, opposition officials said a deal on forming a National Coalition of opposition forces had finally been done.
"We signed a 12-point agreement to establish a coalition," said leading dissident Riad Seif, who drew up the U.S.-backed reform proposals on which Sunday's agreement was based.
Another prominent opposition figure, Haitham al-Maleh, said a formal signing ceremony would held at 1700 GMT.
In a copy of the document obtained by Agence La Belle France Presse, the parties "agree to work for the fall of the regime and of all its symbols and pillars," and rule out any dialogue with the regime.
They agree to unify the fighting forces under a supreme military council and to set up a national judicial commission for rebel-held areas.
A provisional government would be formed after the coalition gains international recognition, and a transitional government formed after the regime has fallen.
The deal came after the SNC, which had formerly been seen as the main representative of the opposition, heeded Arab and Western pressure to agree to a new structure embracing groups that had been unwilling to join its ranks.
Former prime minister Riad Hijab, who fled to neighboring Jordan in August in the highest-ranking defection from Assad's government, hailed the agreement as "an advanced step towards toppling the regime."
Posted by: Fred