Saturday, 6 April 2013

No More Khatib-isms for Syrian Opposition

استمرار عودة اللاجئين السوريين الى بلادهم

Published Thursday, April 4, 2013
Statements from Moaz al-Khatib are becoming their own brand. The former Syrian National Coalition head is now playing solo. No longer representing the coalition in his pronouncements, Khatib only represents himself. Some of his colleagues believe his rhetoric is emotional and expresses “hopes and sorrows.” They lack diplomatic finesse.

As a sign of his support for a political solution, Khatib recently suggested a televised debate with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Yet these types of suggestions are no longer viewed as litmus tests for the regime, like the time when Khatib called for the release of detainees from Syrian prisons prior to any negotiations.

He knew his requests would be rejected by the regime. A coalition member told Al-Akhbar that Khatib would often make impromptu suggestions “from outside the general consensus.”

Khatib is not a man of war and aspires for a solution to the Syrian crisis. He is busy knocking on doors and considers it a challenge. But he also believes it is a dead end, the coalition member added.

The majority of the coalition members have not commented on Khatib’s statements. They did not take their usual positions in front of the cameras and say monologues about how “Khatib’s initiative” is a personal one and that the coalition would meet to bring things back to normal.

After the latest “initiative,” the coalition did “bring things back to normal.” They met and decided that any call for dialogue can only happen through the general assembly.

It is unacceptable to enter negotiations unless their goal is a political transition to power, coalition member Hisham Mroue told Al-Akhbar.

However, Mroue believes that Khatib’s earlier proposal led to an important international breakthrough. It conveyed that the opposition could win the battle either politically or militarily, and that it is not afraid of dialogue.

Members of the coalition told Al-Akhbar that, though Khatib will officially end his duties on 11 May 2013, they will not disavow their president. “The remaining time does not warrant a political shock,” according to coalition member Khaled al-Nasser.

Khatib agreed to remain in his position while the coalition decides on another president. “It’s not worth it,” one of its members told Al-Akhbar. “He is only here for an additiona; one month and ten days.” Khatib’s pronouncements are, “by default,” more or less personal opinions, he explained.
However, Khatib “is the son of this revolution and we want him to remain with us, since the differences are not substantial,” he continued.

The National Coordination Committee for Democratic Change in Syria (NCC) praised his position on negotiations and his resignation.

An NCC official in Damascus said that the external opposition does not have any initiative, much like the regime. Both sides, in his opinion, are burning the political solution. He added that after witnessing 600 protests each Friday at the beginning of the revolution, they are now down to ten.

The forces who control the coalition want a Syrian Ahmad Chalabi, the NCC official added.

This article is an edited translation from the Arabic Edition.

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