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SNC in decline and SDC in ascendency in Syria PDF Print E-mail

I have wrtten and posted articles to the effect that the SNC, the heir apparant designated by Obama

and in league with Turkey, was dominated by the Muslim Brotherhood and shouldn’t be supported. This break up is good news.

 

Just yesterday the group I am supporting, the Syrian Democracy Coalition (SDC) headed by Sherkoh Abbas, advised that the Syrian Christians for Democracy are joing their coalition because Assad is killing Christians and the Catholic News Service covers up for him

By ANNE BARNARD, NYT

BEIRUT, Lebanon — The main Syrian exile opposition group suffered a serious fracture on Wednesday as several prominent members resigned, calling the group autocratic, dominated by the Muslim Brotherhood and powerless to help Syrian rebels as government forces, having flushed insurgent strongholds in the north, swept into the rebellious southern city of Dara’a.

The government’s near-complete takeover of the cities of Homs and Idlib fueled frustration with the exile group, the Syrian National Council, said one activist who had resigned, Kamal al-Labwani, a respected dissident released from Syrian prison last year halfway through a 12-year sentence.

Activists have said hundreds of people were killed in Homs alone as rebel fighters, their pleas for weapons unanswered, were heavily outgunned by the Syrian military.

“What happened in Homs is betrayal,” Mr. Labwani said in an interview. “There is a sense of irresponsibility on the part of the council.”

The council, he added, was in danger of causing splits in Syrian society by failing to create a single rebel military command under its control, leaving individual militias to seek their own sources of help. He accused Muslim Brotherhood members within the exile opposition of “monopolizing funding and military support.”

The 270-member council has been plagued by internal disagreements. A member of its executive committee, Samir Nachar, played down the latest frictions, saying the members had not submitted formal resignations and were simply frustrated at their exclusion from a meeting with the United Nations special envoy, Kofi Annan.

But this time the departing members include some well-known members with deep credibility among Syrians both inside and outside the country, including Mr. Labwani and Haitham Maleh, an executive committee member and lawyer in his 80s who served many years in prison after defending Syrian dissidents, including Muslim Brotherhood members.

Mr. Maleh could not be reached for comment, but told Al Jazeera that he had resigned because of chaos within the group and doubt over what it could accomplish, adding, “We have not gotten very far in working to arm the rebels.”

The government of President Bashar al-Assad appeared emboldened after having seized most of Idlib on Tuesday amid faltering international efforts to stop the violence, and activists inside Syria said they feared it had now turned attention to crushing opposition in the south — just as the symbolically important anniversary of the uprising had arrived.

 

The protests in Dara’a — which followed the killing of schoolchildren who had scrawled antigovernment graffiti — began a year ago Thursday. Those protests turned into a nationwide uprising that has become the most deadly of the Arab revolts.

 

Dara’a has been convulsed by clashes before, but “today the situation is different,” with about 150 tanks and many busloads of security forces sweeping the city from the west, said Anwar Fares, an activist reached by telephone in the city. “It seems they want to have a situation similar to Idlib and Homs.”

Unlike those cities, Dara’a lacks a strong presence of the Free Syrian Army, the main armed opposition group made up of defecting soldiers and other fighters. Rebels have not held entire neighborhoods in Dara’a, as they did further north.

Mr. Fares and others lamented that Mr. Assad seemed to feel he has a freer hand, confident in the disunity of his opponents and secure that Russia, his most important foreign backer, will foil any diplomatic attempt at a political settlement that disempowers him. “He is taking his sweet time,” Mr. Fares said.

But Mr. Assad’s confidence appeared to show limits as the government ordered people to show up for work and school on Thursday — a national holiday honoring teachers. Activists called it a transparent move to force people to attend pro-government protests billed as a “Global March for Syria,” and they were advertised on Syrian television as demonstrations against what Mr. Assad has called terrorism and foreign interference fueling the uprising.

 

The state news agency, SANA, announced that schools, universities and government offices would be open and truants would be punished.

 

Still, the way forward for the opposition seemed unclear. On Tuesday, the Syrian National Council had taken steps to bring the Free Syrian Army under its umbrella. But Mr. Labwani, the council member who is resigning, said the exiles had few ties to the fighters inside. “The Free Syrian Army is the people who are inside Syria,” he said.

He called the council’s head, Burhan Ghalioun, an autocrat who makes decisions “under our names without getting back to us.” Mr. Ghalioun could not be reached for comment.

Mr. Labwani said he had argued that the rebels should be armed only under a single command with the council controlling the finances, but Muslim Brotherhood members had objected.

“It will lead to disaster, especially if the revolution is turned into militias,” Mr. Labwani said.

The other two resigning members are Walid al-Bunni and Catherine Altalli. “The Brotherhood took the whole council,” Mr. Bunni said in an interview. “We became like extras.”

In a kind of warning, Mr. Labwani and Mr. Maleh last month formed a new group under the council’s umbrella.

Reporting was contributed by Hwaida Saad and Hala Droubi from Beirut, Alan Cowell from London, and Rick Gladstone from New York.

 

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