Internal opposition pressing Syrian regime for political transition

A man sitting next to a statue of former President Hafez al-Assad, surrounded with election posters of his son President Bashar al-Assad in Damascus – 23 May 2021 (AFP)

A man sitting next to a statue of former President Hafez al-Assad, surrounded with election posters of his son President Bashar al-Assad in Damascus – 23 May 2021 (AFP)

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The National Democratic Front (NDF) published the closing statement of its first foundational conference, held online on 18 May. The NDF finally managed to hold the event after the Syrian regime forces aborted all members’ attempts to have it in real space in Damascus.

During the conference a president, a deputy president, rapporteur, secretary, monitoring and evaluation committee and a central committee, encompassing representatives of the constituent groups and independents, were elected, the NDF said in the statement published on its Facebook page on 1 June.

The members also set up the Organizational Statute and ratified it; they also agreed on a political vision. A number of reservations and suggested modifications were made regarding the vision. The proposals were forwarded to the Central Committee that is to discuss them and then make a decision.

According to the statement, the NDF seeks to present an expanded front, open to national powers and figures of the opposition, inside and outside Syria, to contribute to realizing the political transition in the country and the national democratic enterprise to “change the al-Assad regime, including all its symbols and foundations,” as well as build a “democratic modern” state.

Furthermore, the conference called on the international community, international and local civil society organizations, decision-makers, as well as Syrian powers and parties to politically pressure the regime into releasing detainees and providing information about the fate of the missing and forcibly disappeared, in addition to effectively working to enable the voluntary return of refugees and internally displaced to their original places of residence.

The conference also called for setting up plans, taking steps to remove foreign militias and forces, and putting an end to active combat in Syria.

Signatories to the statement included independents, political entities, and parties.

The statement was signed by Ibrahim al-Jabawi, Suleiman al-Kfairi, and Muhammad Malak as independents.

Of the political powers that participated in the conference and signed the statement were the Syrian Current for Building and Renovation, the Syrian Democratic Turkmen Movement, the Civil Society for Combating Zionism and Supporting Palestine, and the National Initiative in Jabal al-Arab, among others.

The parties that signed the statement included the Social Democratic party, the Syrian Communist Party, the Democratic Arab Socialist Union, Arab Democratic Socialist Ba’ath Party, and the Communist Action Party.

The conference was attended by 17 entities of the Democratic Front and founders, under the slogan “towards Syria that is a civil democratic state.”

Syrian regime obstructs the conference

After the NDF provided a date for the conference, the Syrian regime prevented participants from meeting in person and threatened with dire consequences should the conference be held.

The conference’s preparatory committee made a statement on 27 March, saying that the regime hampered the preparations by making “security affiliates” call personalities and directors of the entities intending to participate in the conference late on the evening of the day before the set-up date.

Regime forces carried out their threats. Back then, the Arab Democratic Union Party said that security forces affiliated with the Syrian regime encircled the arena where the conference was to be held and prevented participants and media outlets from entering the location or waiting in the surrounding area.

The party added that security forces entered the location and asked the attendees out, not allowing journalists to speak to any of them.

Enab Baladi obtained recordings of some of the people who were at the conference’s site in Damascus. They said that the building was cordoned and that they are waiting for the Civil Police to get them out.

Since September 2012, no conferences have been held by representatives of the opposition. The last such conference was held in  2011 that resulted in the formation of the National Coordination Committee for Democratic Change. The committee is the largest opposition body at home and it published its foundational statement in June 2011.

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