Syrian Opposition to Meet in Turkey: May 31 – June 2

Opposition groups and activists are planning to meet in in Antalya, Turkey from May 31 to June 2 in an attempt to elect a transitional council, connect with protesters inside the country, and present the international community with a clear alternative to Assad.

In April, the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood gathered in Istanbul, where a press conference was held by Riad al-Shaqfa, a mentor of the Muslim Brotherhood. It was carried live on Al Jazeera. The meeting was organized under the auspices of the Independent Industrialists’ and Businessmen’s Association, or MÜSİAD, but the financer and the real organizer was Gazi Mısırlı, one of the leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood and a Syrian who has been living in Turkey with Turkish citizenship, the Syrian ambassador to Ankara, Nidal Kabalan, told the Hürriyet Daily News.

“The conference will be open to all supporters of the opposition, independent personalities and representatives of all faiths,” Ammar Qurabi, president of the Egypt-based National Organisation of Human Rights, told AFP. He referred to the Damascus Declaration, which was formed in 2005 and  demanded an end to the domination of the ruling Baath party, free elections and the release of political prisoners.

Listen to this Radio Show to hear Ausama Monajed, an important England based activist
Questions Over Syria: ‘Who’s Leading Revolution… Are We Going To Have Stability?’
“Here and Now” on NPR –  “We look at what’s next for Syria with Landis and Monajed.”

London-based activist Ausama Monajed, who lives in England and issues – Syrian Revolution News Round-ups, is leading Syria’s online opposition and says that the Syrian government won’t be able to stop change simply by shutting down telephone lines or by closely monitoring Internet-based protest, as they have for years.

But Syria expert Josh Landis of the University of Oklahoma, describes deep divisions in Syria, where many residents are fearful of change. Landis said, “You know the anxiety for many Syrians is…. who is leading this revolution, what do they want, who’s going to take over, are we going to have stability?” We look at what’s next for Syria with Landis and Monajed.

Here is what Syrian ambassador to Ankara, Nidal Kabalan, told the Hürriyet Daily News last week about the Muslim Brotherhood meeting in Istanbul in April.

The Syrian administration has also been irked by the meetings of Syrian opposition figures in Istanbul in April. “I think Turkey has been trying to play a role, maybe which, in principle, has a good intention, but the Muslim Brotherhood, those who have taken part in armed operations against the Syrian army in 1980s, have Syrian blood on their hands,” Kabalan said.

“For us, the Muslim Brotherhood is like the PKK is for Turkey,” he said, referring to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK. “The Muslim Brotherhood has been attacking the army. You have to understand that sensitivity.”

Kabalan said the political wing of the Muslim Brotherhood had been engaged in a dialogue with the Syrian government, but added that he was talking about the military wing of the group.

“At the gathering in Istanbul a press conference was held by Riad al-Shaqfa, a mentor of the Muslim Brotherhood. It was carried live on Al Jazeera – an unwelcome development, I have to be honest. We did not like it. You should not give a platform to people with blood on their hands,” he said.

“The issue is who is meeting and what the decisions are. If it was a meeting to initiate a peaceful constructive dialogue with the country, it was not a problem,” Kabalan added.

The meeting was organized under the auspices of the Independent Industrialists’ and Businessmen’s Association, or MÜSİAD, but the financer and the real organizer was Gazi Mısırlı, one of the leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood and a Syrian who has been living in Turkey with Turkish citizenship, Kabalan said.

“When President al-Assad came to Istanbul [in 2009], Mr. Erdoğan introduced this guy and said, ‘Please, my brother Bashar, help this man.’ Mısırlı is the financer of most of the actions,” the ambassador said. “He was welcomed by Bashar al-Assad personally to go back to Syria. This was a year and a half ago, and he did not give one single answer.”

“We are very sorry for every single drop of blood that has been shed on Syrian soil. Syrian blood should be spread in Palestine, in fighting Israel, not in fighting in Syrian cities,” he added.

Kabalan said the unrest in Syria was almost over and that the government had obtained confessions from arrested armed people of at least 11 nationalities, including those from Iraq, Jordan, Palestine, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Morocco, Algeria, Libya, Eritrea and Somalia.

Asked about criticisms that al-Assad’s regime is slow in acting on reforms, the envoy said such changes take time, citing the Turkish government’s efforts to change the constitution over the past four to five years.

Turkish experts who visited Damascus have contributed to legislation on a multiparty system, a new law for local administration and a law on peaceful demonstrations, he said.

US policy on Syria ‘depends on success in Libya’,
Kim Ghattas By Kim Ghattas BBC News, Washington, 24 May 2011

…. In Washington as well as European capitals, the consensus seems to be that Mr Assad’s days are numbered even though there is no decision to call on him to go.

While the West decided it could never work with Col Gaddafi again, there would still be a willingness to work with Mr Assad if he suddenly made concrete, genuine efforts towards dialogue and democracy.

The US and its Western allies also do not want to call for the departure of another leader and find him still sitting in his presidential palace weeks later, said a European diplomat speaking on condition of anonymity.

“If we want to address Syria, we have to deal with Libya first,” said the diplomat.

Ammar Abdulhamid, a long time Syrian dissident who has been living in exile in the US since 2005, suggests the administration is slowing down the process that would lead to calls for Mr Assad to leave – trying to buy time “while they try to finish things in Libya”….

Mr Abdulhamid acknowledged that another reason why the US has refrained from calling on Mr Assad to go is its uncertainty about a post-Assad future.

“They don’t believe he’s a reformer, but they can’t see an alternative,” he said.

A large number of opposition groups are now reportedly planning to meet in Turkey at the end of the month, to attempt to elect a transitional council, connect with protesters inside the country, and present the international community with a clear alternative to Assad.

If they succeed, it would move the debate about Syria into a new phase.

Syrian president, top officials, businessmen hit by EU sanctions
2011-05-24, Trend

Brussels (DPA) — Syria’s president, its vice-president, a top adviser, a slew of security officials and several businessmen loyal to the regime were officially banned on Tuesday from travelling to the European Union, with any assets they may hold in the bloc frozen. The names of the 10 new individuals targeted in the EU’s second round of Syrian sanctions were published in its official journal, marking their entry into force….

In Iran, an additional five people and 72 companies involved in activities involving nuclear or ballistic missiles have been hit with travel bans and asset freezes, including companies with locations in Germany, Belarus, Malaysia, Switzerland, United Arab Emirates, Hong Kong, Malta, Cyprus and the Isle of Man.

Canada imposes economic sanctions on Syria in response to crackdown
Washington Post –

Canada’s sanctions will prevent Syrian leaders from travelling to Canada and essentially ban trade between the two countries. The measures are largely symbolic because Canada exports only about $60 million annually to Syria, and receives less than a tenth that in imports.

LA Times [Reg]: Nuclear report on Syria may augur punitive action

Reporting from Beirut— The United Nations’ nuclear watchdog released a detailed report saying Syria “very likely” pursued a clandestine nuclear program, an assertion that is expected to add pressure on a regime already reeling from protests at …

US ex-general predicts Syria intervention

[A reader pointed out that this is probably not true – Thanks]

NATO hits Tripoli in largest strike yet

Syrian capital’s residents on edge
Jocelyne Zablit , 24 May 2011, Agence France Presse

Damascus remains relatively untouched by the pro-democracy protests roiling Syria, but even supporters of the regime in the capital are becoming edgy about the mounting death toll and wondering where the country is headed.

While on the surface all appears normal in the city, with shops open, traffic jams and crowded sidewalks, it is clear that the unrest is on everyone’s mind and that with each new demonstration, casualty and sanction the tension rises a notch.

Many hunker down in their homes at night instead of socialising, while some evening events are being cancelled or moved up so that residents can rush home early.

“Two weeks ago we still believed the government’s assertion that everything was under control and that the crisis was over,” said one local resident, traditionally a supporter of President Bashar al-Assad.

“But the future suddenly looks dark and I wonder down what path the regime is taking us,” added the woman, who like others mentioned in this article refused to be named.

Many people in the metropolis of some four million — where the Alawite-controlled authoritarian regime has a strong base of support among minority Christians and members of the Sunni bourgeoisie — seem baffled by the turn of events.

“It is beginning to sink in that this is not going to be over soon and that the country is undergoing major change,” said one businessman. “Nothing will be the same as before anymore.”

Assad still enjoys strong support in the capital but there are growing fears that the situation is spiralling out of control and that the unrest could eventually hit Damascus and Aleppo, the two major power centres largely spared the violence so far.

‘The impact of Syria’s unrest on Iran‘ (Jubin Goodarzi, The Iran Primer–USIP)

“For Iran, the ouster of President Bashar Assad in Syria would arguably be the most significant setback since the end of its eight-year war with Iraq in 1988 and possibly even since its 1979 revolution. Regime change would be a major blow for both Iran’s ideological and foreign policy goals. Syria has been Iran’s only stalwart supporter over the past 32 years. It was one of the few Arab states that stood by Iran during its eight-year-long war with Iraq in the 1980s. Over the past three decades, Syria has also served as a major conduit for Iranian arms shipments and support to Lebanon’s Hezbollah. The militant Shiite movement represents a major asset for Tehran and Damascus in the regional power struggle against Israel, the United States and their allies. Since the end of the 2006 Lebanon conflict, Damascus and Tehran have rebuilt Hezbollah into a formidable force with an arsenal estimated at 40,000 rockets and missiles.”

Netanyahu rules out return to 1967 borders in AIPAC address

Guardian (GB): Syria acknowledges sanctions will hurt

ZEINA KARAM Associated Press= BEIRUT (AP) — Syria’s foreign minister acknowledged Monday that European sanctions will hurt Syrian interests, but he said Damascus will not allow foreign countries to impose their will on Syria.

Debate Over Religious Freedom in Syria Causes Anger in Los Angeles Diaspora, Mary Slosson for Huffington Post

Features Ammar Kahf, a leader of the local opposition protests and the Los Angeles representative of the Syrian Emergency Task Force. He is brother of Mohja Kahf, who is the wife of Najib Ghadbian. All are among the 20 or so signers of the “National Initiative for Change”

Comments (217)

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201. AIG said:


You don’t get it, do you? Israel is strong because it has freedom of speech. An open society begets a rich society and it also begets a technologically innovative society. By stifling freedom of speech, the Arab made their societies weak.

Freedom of speech is not enough, but it is the beginning. Without it, you can’t have accountability and you have corrupt and failing governments, like in Syria.

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May 26th, 2011, 7:24 pm


202. jad said:

It’s a last minuet attempt by 3r3our and his ‘students’ to get someone killed so the organizers can use their blood for tomorrow.

Here is a summary of what 3r3our students did according to FB:

بالنسبة للتكبير وما وردنا ونرجو التأكيد على ذلك من الأخوة الكرام

اللاذقية: ثلاث مناطق بدأت جوامعها بالتكبير و دعوات الجهاد وهي قنينص و الرمل الفلسطيني و الصليبة
جبلة: دعوات الجهاد بالجوامع و التكبيرات في احد الاحياء
حمص: دعوات الى الجهاد عبر الجوامع في باب سباع و باباعمرو
اريحا: دعوات الى الجهاد في الجوامع ودعوات الى الزحف لتحرير حلب حسب من ينادي بالجوامع
ريف دمشق – معضمية الشام: دعوات الى الجهاد و التكبيرات في جامع الزهرة
دمشق – ساحة الشهبندر قطع الطريق من قبل 20 شخص و قد تم توقيفهم من عناصر الشرطة
دمشق: اصوات سيارات الشرطة في باب شرقي كانت لسيارات تقل مقوفين من برزة و القابون في طريق العودة الى فرع الامن الجنائي

S.N.K, add those two to your ‘Sahwat’ series 🙂
“على الهواء مباشرة ..(المعارض) مأمون الحمصي يبايع (الشيخ) عدنان عرعور مفتياعاما لسوريا ، فيرد عليه (الشيخ ) عرعور (بمبايعة) الحمصي رئيسا للجمهورية!!!!!”
Ya 7aram 3l hastara!

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May 26th, 2011, 7:29 pm


203. vlad-the-syrian said:


– the evolution of islam since the 10th century i.e predominancy of ash’arism as official sunnism

– KSA wahhabism and its billions of petro-dollars feeding islamist movements all around the world

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May 26th, 2011, 7:30 pm


204. vlad-the-syrian said:


you new-age PHILISTINE

your 30% religious oligarchy is strong this is why it is the first world weapon seller per capita 🙂

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May 26th, 2011, 7:36 pm


205. Turkey said:

Edited for bad language JL – Do not use this again or you will be banned. {In April, the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood gathered in Istanbul, where a press conference was held by Riad al-Shaqfa, a mentor of the Muslim Brotherhood.}

Syrian MB is an agent of Britain and MI6. Erdugan and Turkey works with MB, the terrorists. US wants Turkey and Erdugan, US puppet, to bring MB under control and with Saudi Arabia creates a …..Sunni terrorist camp against Shiite Iran and Hezbullah. People of the region must be united against their enemy. Erdugan and Turkey cannot be trusted

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May 26th, 2011, 8:28 pm


206. why-discuss said:


I got it, but frankly I would hate that Syria becomes like Israel. Let God preserves us from this nightmare!

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May 26th, 2011, 9:04 pm


207. why-discuss said:


In Syria there may not be free spech but at least we don’t have your hypocrite and racist Koening Memoramdum.. Remember?

….The Koenig Memorandum was the first publicly available document to outline some of the “policies of discrimination and containment” that Palestinian citizens have been subject to since 1948, reflecting “planning and deliberations at the policy-making circles.”[4] Its publication also exposed policy options that Israeli policy makers were considering prior to Land Day, as its first (main) section was finalized on 1 March – one month before the events of Land Day.[4]

Although the Israeli Government never officially acknowledged that official government policies were guided by this plan, some of Koenig’s recommendations were implemented, particularly those regarding the expansion of land expropriations from Arab owners and the establishment of new Jewish settlements in the area in order to fragment and contain the Palestinian Arab population in Israel.[3][5][6]

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May 26th, 2011, 9:19 pm


208. AIG said:


Is that the best you can do, the Koening Memorandum from 1976?
Are you joking? And what is great is that you prove my point. It was leaked to a newspaper and published! Thus making the government accountable for it.

Of course Syria wants to be like Israel, a democratic first world country with 7 universities in the top 500 in the world and a leader in scientific publications per capita. Syria’s scientific output is dismal because Assad is choking the creativity of the Syrians. It is time for you to wake up and understand that Syria is weak because of Assad. Its people potential is stifled. Assad is a catastrophe for Syria.

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May 26th, 2011, 9:28 pm


209. AIG said:


How is it that Syria and Israel are at war with each other but Israel is able to become a leading exporter of military technology while Syria is driven to bankruptcy trying to keep up with Israel? Don’t you realize how bad Assad is for Syria? Syria is a bigger and with much more resources than Israel. Yet, Israel easily dominates it. Why? Because the Assad family ruined Syria.

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May 26th, 2011, 9:32 pm


210. Sophia said:

# 169 Amir in Tel Aviv,

Are you attacking me because you lost your argument?

Next time you want to address me be polite because you know I will never act like you and you hope to have the final word by being impolite and agressive toward me.

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May 26th, 2011, 9:40 pm


211. why-discuss said:


Be sure that not one Arab living in the middle east would want his country to be like Israel. Who cares about your universities and your export of weapons and your diamonds when you live on a stolen land and you keep harassing the children of the people you kicked out by force. Your country is a hypocrite country that hides its evil under a shiny manufactured image, similar to apartheid south Africa.

Be happy in Israel but don’t imagine a second that we envy you!

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May 26th, 2011, 9:52 pm


212. why-discuss said:

Syria replaces envoy to Turkey as Antalya readies for opposition meet

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May 26th, 2011, 10:01 pm


213. Atassi said:


Zambi, !! you are completely wrong on this one, I have a free mind, I am alive and still dreaming of a free Syria, I can see a new independence day in the horizon, new Syria, Singapore type Syria..The day we have been waiting for more than 40 years, I am so thrilled to see my fellow county men meeting facing the merciless bullets fearlessly, shouting freedom, freedom, freedom; I am extremely satisfied and proud of my fellow Syrians… Go on, keep your support for your cult idol Bashar, and I will never stop supporting my fellow freedom seeking Syrians…
Killing the protesters and occupying the country militarily, was the most fatal mistake that will for sure take down your cult leader and all his cronies and beneficiaries..

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May 26th, 2011, 10:39 pm


214. daleandersen said:

“Syrian MB is an agent of Britain and MI6. Erdugan and Turkey works with MB”

This is as idiotic as Qaddafi and Bashar’s contention (through their state propagandists) that al-Qaeda is a creature of the Mossad and the CIA. Only in the Middle East would a warm, breathing, undead human being believe such crap…

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May 26th, 2011, 11:17 pm


215. AIG said:


A hypocrite country is one that is against religious parties but its best allies are Iran and Hezbollah. A hypocrite country is one that is against the MB but supports Hamas.

Israel is a successful country because it is a free country. If you want to remain backward, stay with Assad.

The Arabs could have accepted the UN partition resolution. Instead they chose war. If you choose war, you better make sure you can win it. Otherwise don’t complain about your own stupidity.

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May 26th, 2011, 11:47 pm


216. Observer said:

I am pessimistic for the entire Arab new generation. Especially in Syria, we are at least 50 years behind in bringing reforms. The institutions of higher education are dismal in their performance, the infrastructure is crumbling, and most important the work ethic is non existent.
We have now 1.2 billion Chinese and 1.2 billion Indians and perhaps another billion in South East Asia that are going to compete with the us for labor and they are producing much more impressive educated class and they are willing to work much harder than us.
To go back to this President either he is in charge and therefore responsible for what is happening or he is not in charge and therefore should step down as he cannot maintain order among the armed forces he is the commander in chief after all.
What is happening in Syria with or without propaganda hype on both sides is purely and simply unacceptable. Burning people and torturing children is simply abhorrent and in this day and age bound to cause revenge.

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May 27th, 2011, 9:21 am


217. Norman said:


Can you tell me what prevented Egypt,Jordon,Saudi Arabia tunisia from being like sangapore, it is what observer said our fellow Arabs who stayed in the Arab world are lazy snob no job is good for them they would rather live on handouts from their families than work odd jobs, otherwise how can we explain the high unemployment that we have in the Arab world and the same time getting labor fro the philippine and southeast Asia.

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May 27th, 2011, 3:48 pm


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