Syrian Opposition Deliberates in Doha
The withdrawal of international backing has prompted the Syrian National Council to expand its membership and elect new leadership. During the Syrian opposition’s Doha summit, the SNC voted to enlarge its ranks to 420 members. Prior to the summit, prominent dissident Riad Seif had proposed an alternative 50-member unity council, including 15 seats for the SNC. On November 6 he amended the plan, offering the SNC 22 seats in a new 60-seat arrangement. Seif’s initiative is scheduled to be debated in a final meeting of the broader Syrian opposition on November 8. Outgoing SNC chief Abdelbaset Sieda said the SNC should retain a “central role” in any opposition configuration, and warned that “any action targeting the [SNC] will intentionally or unintentionally prolong the life of the regime.”
State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland confirmed the U.S. position on the matter saying, “We are looking for the same thing that the Syrian opposition inside Syria has been calling for, which is an opposition that represents more of the groups, more of the geographic representation, more of those who have been involved on the ground with local coordinating councils, with revolution councils, et cetera.” Murhaf Jouejati, a Syrian analyst at the National Defense University and former SNC member, said ”what the revolution needs, of course, is to include those military forces on the ground that are doing the revolution, [but] at the top there needs to be a centralization, so when the top takes decisions, the entire body acts accordingly.”
Meanwhile, U.N. envoy Lakhdar Brahimi expressed grave concern over the continuing crisis saying , “People are talking about the risk of partition in Syria. I believe that if this issue is not dealt with correctly, the danger is ‘Somalisation’ and not partition – the collapse of the state and the emergence of warlords, militias and fighting groups.” Additionally, seven Syrian generals defected to Turkey amid continued air strikes across Syria.