The National Coordination Body for Democratic Change has been closely following the movements leading to the ‘Friends of Syria’ conference. The NCB acknowledges the noble intentions behind the calling of the conference, especially since it is to be hosted by Tunisia, the country that sparked the Arab spring, whose its officials have always been resolutely against foreign military intervention in Syria and who abhor sectarianism and violence no matter where it emanates from. Tunisia has been dedicated to preserving the unity of Syria. It has sought to do this by attempting to unite the democratic resistance, unifying the efforts of the opposition rather than dividing them or creating tensions through favoritism and marginalization; and maintaining this unity through promoting the Arab plan because of its wide acceptance by the popular movements and the civil and political groupings in Syria.
For these reasons the NCB agreed to send a signficant delegation to the conference led by Dr. Haytham Manna, the Deputy General Coordinator accompanied by the following: Abdulmajeed Manjooneh, Rajaa’ AlNasser, Ma’amoon Khaleefa, Saleh Muslim, Mohammed Hijazi, Dr. Hani Abu Saleh, Dr. Huda Al Zain, Fadel Ali, Abdulrahman Khaleefa, all of whom are leading members of the NCB in Syria or in exile.
The Tunisian President gave assurances that all opposition groups will be dealt with equally without any favoritism so there would be no recognition of one group over the rest; that foreign military intervention is a red line that will not be crossed; and that the escalating militarization of the conflict is recognised as a threat to civil peace and the victory of our peaceful revolution. Despite all of these intentions and assurances, a closed group of 11 countries, including Arab and non-Arab members, has moved to paint a different picture of the Conference based on preconceptions emerging from closed meetings, that the Conference was to serve a different end for them, one that they are actively seeking. For this reason, certain powerful countries have refused to attend. We then witnessed a stronger and more dangerous push towards withdrawing the plan from the Arab League under the guise of protecting the Arab work plan, and a push to replace those who represent the Syrian people, taking it away from the Arab League-approved opposition conference and therefore the Syrian people themselves. We also observe attempts to leave the military window open, both in relation to militarizing the opposition and for foreign intervention.
All of this is in direct conflict with the interests of the Syrian people, their borders, unity, and their fight for dignity, democracy and justice – which is the essence of the Syrian revolution. Despite our vocal reservations regarding the first working paper that was circulated, and our position regarding the retaining of this, these eleven countries reaffirmed their committment to it in their closing statements in their London conference, empowering the less rational and more factionalist elements of the opposition that will only cause harm to the unity of the cause, as well as empowering the brutal regime’s physical and rhetorical capabilities, whilst harming the Syrian people and their revolution.
Having reviewed the arrangements of the conference, its papers, and the questionable role played by some countries, the NCB delegation has come to the conclusion that its participation in the Conference would be detrimental, therefore it refuses to participate in the Conference and will submit a dossier on this important matter to the brothers and sisters at the executive committee so that they may take the right stance and appropriate actions regarding the outcomes of the conference.
Long live the free, democratic and civil Syria