|Hassan Abdul-Azim, the head of the National Coordination Body for the Forces of National and Democratic Change (L) and the Egyptian charge d’affairs Alaa Abdul-Aziz attend the opening session of “National Conference for Rescuing Syria”in Damascus, Sept. 23, 2012. Syrian oppositional National Coordination Body (NCB) and some other opposition parties started a “National Conference for Rescuing Syria” in Damascus on Sunday, a day after some 28 opposition parties called for postponing the conference over disputes with the NCB. (Xinhua/Hazim)|
DAMASCUS, Sept. 23 (Xinhua) — Syrian oppositional National Coordination Body (NCB) and some 20 other opposition parties started a “National Conference for Rescuing Syria” in Damascus on Sunday, amid the boycott of more than 28 parties which announced a day earlier that they had disagreements with the NCB in terms of vision and basics.
The all-day-long conference was kicked off Sunday morning with the Syrian national anthem. It is notable, however, that the conference started with neither the official Syrian flag nor the opposition’s one.
In an opening statement, the participants said they have agreed on a number of principles, mainly “bringing down the current regime with all of its symbols and fundamentals” in a way that would guarantee building a “democratic and civilian state… regardless of religion, sex and ethnicity.”
The statement also stressed on denouncing sectarianism and anything that could lead to fragmenting the society.
The statement’s signatories also stressed the importance of ” peaceful struggle” as a strategy to achieve “the revolution’s goals.” They, however, pointed out that the rebels’ Free Syrian Army (FSA) is a component of the “revolution” and it should protect the “strategic peacefulness of the movement.”
The NCB’s attitude towards the FSA is the main point of dispute with other opposition parties inside Syria.
On Saturday, a total of 28 opposition parties said their relation with the NCB is marred by the wrangling on the rebels’ tactics and their role in the 19-month crisis in Syria. They said they are against the militarization of the crisis and against the terrorist acts carried out by operative armed opposition on ground.
The 28 parties did not take part in Sunday’s conference.
Rajaa al-Naser, a NCB member, said at the opening session that “we believe and seek to put forward emergency plans that would allow the return of the displaced people and provide the medical treatment and livelihood for millions of restive Syrians, and we found no other prelude to this except the immediate halt of gunfire and the barbaric, brutal shelling.”
Russian Ambassador to Syria Azamat Kulmukhametov, who also attended the conference, stressed that “we see that the main goal now is to put an immediate end to the violence in Syria, whether it was from the government or the armed groups.”
He added that another “no less important” goal is “turning the current confrontation between the authorities and the armed opposition to the track of peaceful, political solution.”
The ambassador also stressed the importance of “solving the Syrian crisis by the Syrians themselves away from any foreign intervention, including halting the armament and the harboring of the armed groups that also group foreign mercenaries.”
After the opening session, al-Naser told Xinhua that the parties which refused to take part in the conference aim to ” confuse the conference,” adding that “this conference is for the opposition and we didn’t exclude anyone.”
The deep fracture among the Syrian opposition parties is expected to place more hurdles in the face of concrete results at the conference. The fractured opposition in the country has an even greater dispute with the broad-based one, as the Turkey-based Syrian National Council demands a foreign military offensive to bring down Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Sunday’s conference will be wrapped up with a final communique later in the day.