July 5, 2013
By Nuha Shabaan and Jacob Wirtschafter
As it began its first deliberations in Istanbul after doubling the number of participating representatives, the Syrian Coalition issued an appeal to the United Nations and the international community to “intervene immediately to provide humanitarian access into the besieged areas of Daraa and Homs” and called for support to the FSA so it could defend civilians.
Syrians online found irony that the same body prevented a delegation of FSA fighters from Homs to share their views with the leaders meeting at the five star Gonen Hotel.
“How can we trust this group that sold the revolution and Homs to those who refuse to listen to FSA heroes,” asked Ahmed a Sayyad posting on Facebook from Lebanon.
A source confirmed to Syria Direct that leftist representative Michel Kilo met privately with the Homs fighters in a separate conference room but the delegation from the front were not allowed to speak to the entire assembly.
With a consensus emerging that the inability of the Muslim Brotherhood to inclusively and effectively govern in Egypt led to its demise, concerned friends of the Syrian Coalition wonder if their government in exile can learn from Mr. Morsi’s mistakes.
Members and allies of the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood have dominated the Coalition since its inception.
“Morsi and his colleagues believed that putting others aside and forbidding their participation in political life would insure eternal rule for the Brotherhood,” said Abd al-Razak Eid, a 63-year-old veteran of Syrian opposition politics who found asylum in France.
“This is the mentality of dictators. The question on the table is: can the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood learn from Egypt?”
Eid, who was accused of treason by the Assad government in 2002, and sentenced the following year by a military court was prominent in the pre-uprising opposition.
“They [Muslim Brotherhood] see representing the opposition as their private job and made the international and Arab world ignore them as an option,” said the writer of several books on Syrian affairs.
“Morsi hasn’t done anything for Egyptian people in a year of rule, except benefit the Muslim Brotherhood. The Syrian Muslim Brotherhood is the same, they don’t only isolate their opposition allies, and they alienate their own genuine constituency,” alleged Eid.
Not all Syrian liberals are as dismissive of the Coalition’s ability to govern inclusively while Brotherhood representatives hold heavy sway.
Movement for Justice and Development Chairman Anas Al-Abdah thinks there is a reasonable chance that the government in exile can meet expectations to select a new leader and absorb diverse elements such as his own party’s secularist representatives.
“It is my belief that one of the most important criteria of success, with regard to this conference, will be its ability to absorb the new [members] of this expansion, and second, to choose new leadership with the experience to reorient the Coalition towards a new horizon, and to match the ambitions and hopes of the revolution,” said the 46 year-old Information Technology expert.
Al-Abdah, who cooperated with Syrian Brotherhood leaders in crafting the 2005 Damascus Declaration, sees effective governance as the key mission of the Coalition, and the key goal for the opposition’s leadership.
“It is of utmost importance now that we agree on a president for this government, as it will speed up the process of providing the services that the liberated areas require. It will also open the path for this government to do its essential job inside Syria and the designated liberated areas,”said Al-Abdah speaking from Istanbul.
Mahmud Ali al-Khalaf, Chairman of the Moderate Party urges the Syrian Brotherhood to absorb the implications of the Egyptian experience.
“We hope Syrian Muslim Brotherhood will be wise in their behavior, and learn a lesson from their Egyptian counterparts to choose the right path. This means taking Syria and the Syrian people into consideration,” said al-Khalaf.