News / Middle East

Syrian Opposition Mulls Government Transition

Syrian opposition leader Haitham al-Maleh (L, at podium) speaks in Istanbul, on July 16, 2011, during a meeting to discuss democratic change and voice support for a simmering revolt against President Bashar al-Assad's regime
Syrian opposition leader Haitham al-Maleh (L, at podium) speaks in Istanbul, on July 16, 2011, during a meeting to discuss democratic change and voice support for a simmering revolt against President Bashar al-Assad's regime
Dorian Jones

Leading Syrian opposition figures and organizations have met in Istanbul to look for ways to overthrow President Bashar al-Assad's regime. The meeting follows Friday's deadly crackdown by Syrian security forces on opposition protests.

Hundreds of opponents of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad gathered for the so-called "National Salvation Conference" in Istanbul. The meeting drew Syrians from across the social and political spectrum.   Both secular and Islamic groups were present, including leading figures of the Muslim Brotherhood.

But a Kurdish representative to the conference, Dr. Mohammed Rashid, told VOA's Kurdish Service  that Kurdish participants left the conference when the ethnic rights of Kurds were not recognized.

Those attending the conference were drawn from people living in Syria and in exile. The president of the Syrian Human Rights Association and conference leader, Haitham al-Maleh, made an appeal for unity. He said  what I ask for is for those present to cooperate and to be faithful.   He said making statements is easy, but changing the reality is not easy and he said the dissidents are up against a difficult regime in Syria.

Some organizers of the meeting had expressed the hope of setting up an alternative government in Damascus.  But divisions hurt that effort.  Instead, a joint draft declaration laying out a plan to take the opposition forward was drawn up.  The Istanbul meeting was to coincide with a conference in Damascus, but Haitham al-Maleh said preparations for that meeting were crushed by Syrian security forces.

He said the center in which we were supposed to hold the Damascus conference was attacked, many were killed, injured and others arrested.

Syrian security forces on Friday killed at least 32 people following large anti-government protests. A small group of opponents met in Damascus in secret and they sent their addresses to the Istanbul meeting using the Skype Internet service.

Visiting U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton spoke at a press conference in Istanbul Saturday with her Turkish counterpart Ahmet Davutoglu and was asked what it would take for Washington to back the Syrian opposition. "We are encouraged by what the Syrian people are doing for themselves. This Is not anything the United States or any other country is doing. It's what the Syrians are doing, trying to form an opposition, that can provide a pathway hopefully in peace with the government in the future," she said.

Clinton also said that Syria's "brutality" must stop and she said there must be an effort to enact government reforms.

Turkish Foreign Minister Davutoglu stressed  that Turkey was not interfering in Syrian affairs, saying  the fact that Turkey hosted Saturday's opposition meeting should not be seen as a hostile act by Damascus.

Follow our Middle East reports on Twitter
and discuss them on our Facebook page.

You May Like

Pundits Split Over Long-Term US Role in Afghanistan

Security pact remains condition for American presence beyond 2014; deadline criticized More

US Eyes Islamic State Threat

Officials warn that IS could pose a threat to US homeland More

Video Ukraine: Captured Troops Proof of Russian Role in Separatist Fight

Moscow says Russian troops crossed into Ukrainian territory by mistake More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Scientists Unlock Mystery of Bird Flocksi
X
George Putic
August 25, 2014 4:00 PM
How can flocks of birds, schools of fish or herds of antelope suddenly change direction -- all the individuals adjusting their movement in concert, at seemingly the same time? British researchers now have some insights into this behavior, which has puzzled scientists for a long time. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video Scientists Unlock Mystery of Bird Flocks

How can flocks of birds, schools of fish or herds of antelope suddenly change direction -- all the individuals adjusting their movement in concert, at seemingly the same time? British researchers now have some insights into this behavior, which has puzzled scientists for a long time. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video Ukraine: Captured Troops Proof of Russian Role in Separatist Fight

Ukrainian officials say they have captured Russian soldiers on Ukrainian territory -- the latest accusation of Moscow's involvement in the conflict in eastern Ukraine. VOA's Gabe Joselow reports from the Ukrainian side of the battle, where soldiers are convinced of Russia's role.
Video

Video Rubber May Soon Come From Dandelions

Synthetic rubber has been around for more than a century, but quality tires for cars, trucks and aircraft still need up to 40 percent or more natural rubber content. As the source of natural rubber, the rubber tree, is prone to disease and can be affected by bad weather. So scientists are looking for replacements. And as VOA’s George Putic reports, they may have found one in a ubiquitous weed.
Video

Video Jewish Life in Argentina Reflected in Yiddish Tango

Jewish people from across Europe and Russia have been immigrating to Argentina for hundreds of years. They brought with them dance music that were eventually mixed with Argentine tango. The result is Yiddish tango -- a fusion of melodies and cultural experiences that is still evolving today. Elizabeth Lee reports from the Skirball Cultural Center in Los Angeles, where one band is bringing Yiddish tango to an American audience.
Video

Video Peace Returns to Ferguson as Community Tries to Heal

Thousands of people nationwide are expected to attend funeral services Monday in the U.S. Midwestern city of St. Louis, Missouri, for Michael Brown, the unarmed African-American teenager who was fatally shot by a white police officer August 9 in the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson. The shooting touched off days of violent demonstrations there, resulting in more than 100 arrests. VOA's Chris Simkins reports from Ferguson where the community is trying to move on after weeks of racial tension.
Video

Video Meeting in Minsk May Hinge on Putin Story

The presidents of Russia and Ukraine are expected to meet face-to-face Tuesday in Minsk, along with European leaders, for talks on the situation in Ukraine. Political analysts say the much welcomed dialogue could help bring an end to months of deadly clashes between pro-Russia separatists and Ukrainian forces in the country's southeast. But much depends on the actions of one man, Russian President Vladimir Putin. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
Video

Video Artists Shun Russia's Profanity Law

Russia in July enacted a law threatening fines for publicly displayed profanity in media, films, literature, music and theater. The restriction, the toughest since the Soviet era, aims to protect the Russian language and culture and has been welcomed by those who say cursing is getting out of control. But many artists reject the move as a patronizing and ineffective act of censorship in line with a string of conservative morality laws. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
Video

Video British Fighters on Frontline of ISIS Information War

Security services are racing to identify the Islamic State militant who beheaded U.S. journalist James Foley in Syria. The murderer spoke English on camera with a British accent. It’s estimated that several hundred British citizens are fighting for the Islamic State, also called ISIL or ISIS, alongside thousands of other foreign jihadists. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from the center of the investigation in London.

AppleAndroid