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Saturday, November 10, 2012
Syrian Muslim Brotherhood denies seeking to impose control over Syrian opposition - Syrian MB chief

MB denies seeking to impose control over Syrian opposition - Syrian MB chief
10/11/2012 By Mohammed Al-Shafey

London/Beirut, Asharq Al-Awsat – The Syrian Muslim Brotherhood has announced
its support for the idea of establishing a unified opposition political
leadership, such as a national unity government, in the event of the
collapse of the al-Assad regime. In an exclusive interview with Asharq
Al-Awsat, Syrian Muslim Brotherhood General Guide Mohammad Riad Al-Shaqfa
announced that all members of the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood support the
objective of toppling the al-Assad regime and not entering any dialogue or
negotiations with it.

Speaking to Asharq Al-Awsat from Doha, where the Syrian opposition is
meeting with the objective of forging a new, broader opposition leadership
group, the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood chief revealed that the General
Secretariat of this as-yet unnamed opposition body will be comprised of 41
members, 10 of whom will be Muslim Brotherhood affiliates.

He added that this group’s leadership will be elected in the near future,
whilst its Executive Office will be comprised of 11 members. The Syrian
Muslim Brotherhood General Guide also asserted that negotiations are ongoing
in Doha amongst the Syrian opposition regarding the “Syrian National
Initiative” and other issues that have yet to be resolved.

He strongly denied that the Muslim Brotherhood was seeking to impose its
control over the proposed new broad-based opposition umbrella group.

As for the absence of female activists from the General Secretariat of the
Syrian National Council [SNC], al-Shaqfa said that this was the result of
democratic elections, stressing that the new opposition umbrella group would
represent the broadest spectrum of Syrian society.

Well-known Syrian dissident, George Sabra, was elected as the new head of
the SNC on Friday. The SNC has been reluctant to join any new opposition
umbrella organization, fearing that it could lose its influence within a
larger platform. Negotiations are ongoing in Doha regarding the
establishment of this new group, with this expected to last several days.

Following his election as the new SNC chief, Sabra immediately appealed to
the international community to arm the Syrian rebels. He said “we need only
one thing to support our right to survive and to protect ourselves: we need
weapons, we need weapons.”

The Syrian opposition and the SNC in particular have been subject to
international criticism in the recent period. US Secretary of State Hillary
Clinton, speaking last week, said “we’ve made it clear that the SNC can no
longer be viewed as the visible leader of the opposition. They can be part
of a larger opposition, but the opposition must include people from inside
Syria and others who have a legitimate voice that needs to be heard.” She
also warned of “extremists” trying to “hijack the Syrian revolution”,
calling on the Syrian opposition to strongly resist such efforts.

Sabra, speaking in Doha on Friday, acknowledged that some of the criticism
of the SNC had been justified but stressed that this should not be used as
an excuse to delay international aid. He said “don’t hang (your) delay to
provide Syrians what they need, what they want, on the neck of the

He added “let’s say, we have our responsibility, no doubt about that, and we
will carry this responsibility, but we need from the international community
to carry their responsibility also.”

Responding to Hillary Clinton’s comments regarding “extremists” trying to
“hijack the Syrian revolution”, Syrian Muslim Brotherhood General Guide
Mohammad Riad Al-Shaqfa, told Asharq Al-Awsat that “whenever the killing
intensifies, so too does extremism”. He added “the west is also responsible
[for this], because its leaders did not sufficiently stand with the Syrian
revolution. It is not reasonable for massacres to take place in Syria whilst
the world stands watching.”

The Syrian Muslim Brotherhood leader also expressed his regret at the
international unwillingness to get involved to put an end to the ongoing
conflict in Syria, repeating calls for the international community to
provide the Syrian opposition with anti-aircraft missiles and anti-tank
capabilities to repel the al-Assad regime forces. In spite of this, the
Syrian Muslim Brotherhood chief stressed that “the Syrian people will win
without this.”

He added “obtaining the support of the international community will hasten
al-Assad’s departure, however he will fall regardless, but this would save a
lot of lives.”

Commenting on President Barack Obama’s re-election, the Syrian Muslim
Brotherhood chief said “Obama winning a second term in the White House does
not change anything, and the conflict will remain as it is until al-Assad’s
fall, which I believe is fast approaching.”

In related news, Syria’s opposition Local Coordination Council [LCC], a
major network of on-the-ground activists, said that it was withdrawing from
the SNC on Friday over its failures to implement “serious and effective”
reforms to make it more representative.

The LCC issued a statement asserting that “it is clear to us now that the
SNC is not fit to assume such a role, especially after the disappointing
results of its restructuring attempts.”

LCC spokesperson, Rima Fleihan told AFP that “nothing has changed in how the
SNC works, despite a reform project, because the new structure is under the
near-total control of the Muslim Brotherhood.”

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