Professor Burhan Ghalioun was assigned as chairman. He is one of the leading figures of the exile opposition. He heads the Center for Oriental Studies in Paris (Centre d’Etudes sur l’Orient Contemporain; CEOC) and teaches political science at the Sorbonne. He has been a vocal enemy of a foreign military intervention in Syria.
Among the nominated members are Wagdy Mustafa and Riad Seif as vice chairmen as well as renowned oppositionists like Haytham Maleh, Michel Kilo, Suhair Atas, the leader of the Damascus declaration Riad Turk and the cartoonist Ali Farzat. The latter recently got attacked in Damascus and got his arms broken.
The personalities nominated enjoy a certain popular consensus. The communiqué of the “Revolutionary Youth” stresses that the lack of a political representation leads to the prolongation of the confrontation and bloodshed.
It appears, however, that many of the people appointed did not know about it before. In an interview published n Le Monde on September 1 Ghalioun commented on following questions:
Q: What is your role in the council?
[My nomination as chairman] is at the same time an honour as an embarrassment. Some of the names are not acceptable. And calling it “National Transition Council” is problematic as it makes reference to the Libyan model. My intention is to use this initiative as starting point for a real unified front of the opposition.
Q: Why is the unification of the Syrian so difficult?
The exile opposition has been organising several conferences like the ones in Antalya and Istanbul. The problem is that all of them were run by the Muslim Brotherhood as they are the only ones who got an organised foreign apparatus. Result: the inner opposition, which is by majority secular, does not trust the exile opposition which is predominantly Muslim. An important part of the population dislikes the Brotherhood to which they reproach the failed Islamic uprising of the end of the 70s. Since then the regime has been using the uprising as a pretext to eradicate any opposition.
: Which is the impact of the end of Qadaffi on the protest movement?
Both positive and negative. Positive because it shows that the dictatorships are doomed to fall which strengthens the fighting spirit of the opposition. Negative because some activists might be inclined to follow the Libyan model. Why without violence when Libya displays that armed power can end the tyranny? Some voices even call for a foreign military intervention, which is a pure illusion. Facing the daily massacre the people wish for strong solutions.
Q: Are the sanctions imposed by the west effective?
For the time being they are not felt which means that they need to be strengthened. All businessmen, who support the repression especially if they belong to the Assad clan, must be punished.