Core Syrian opposition group proposes transitional government

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A core Syrian opposition group is proposing that the leading National Coalition set up a transitional government in areas outside regime control, according to a document obtained by AFP on Wednesday.

The Syrian National Council called on the Cairo-based umbrella group the Syrian National Coalition to “appoint an interim government, with guarantees that it will be internationally recognized and supported.”

The SNC’s “plan for the transfer of power and the start of the transitional period,” which was presented to the National Coalition, proposed a government with full executive powers be based in areas rebels refer to as “liberated territories.”

The road map also said the interim government must push for the removal of President Bashar al-Assad.

The SNC, a key opposition bloc since early in the revolt that began in March 2011, united with other anti-regime groups in November to form the National Coalition, which has been widely recognized internationally as the sole representative of the Syrian people.

Large swathes of northwestern and eastern Syria are out of regime control. Areas in the north serve both as rebel rear bases and as locations for civil society groups transferring aid from neighboring Turkey to work from.

The transitional government should also oversee an agreement between rebel and regime forces to “organize a ceasefire and withdraw troops to their barracks, while rebel fighters are absorbed into the army and security forces.”

The SNC added that the transitional government should “disqualify Assad and the symbols of his regime (from power) and bow to the demands of the Syrian people.”

The National Council, meanwhile, should “sack the regime’s government and dissolve parliament, as well as the security forces, except for the police force,” said the SNC.

The Coalition should also “dismiss the army’s top commanders and dissolve both the Fourth Division and the Republican Guard,” it added.

The feared Fourth Division led by Assad’s brother Maher is charged with ensuring security in Damascus.

The SNC also called on the Coalition, formed in the Qatari capital Doha, to organize a conference within a month of the regime’s fall, inviting “all political forces... of the revolution and society without exception.”

The plan emerged four days after Assad offered, in a rare speech, talks with the opposition to end the conflict -- but only with elements he deemed acceptable, not rebel-affiliated groups he termed “killers” and “terrorists” led by foreigners.

The National Coalition immediately dismissed his offer, sticking to its precondition that he step down before any dialogue is considered.

Brahimi dismissed Assad’s speech

Meanwhile, International peace envoy to Syria Lakhdar Brahimi dismissed a speech by al-Assad, saying the Syrian president’s proposal to end the crisis was no better than previous failed initiatives.

“I’m afraid what has come out is very much a repeat of previous initiatives that obviously did not work ... it’s not really different and perhaps is even more sectarian and one-sided,” he told the BBC.

“The time of reforms granted magnanimously from above has passed. People want to have a say in how they are governed and they want to take hold of their own future.”

Meeting on Friday

Moscow and Washington’s point men on Syria will meet Brahimi in Geneva on Friday for fresh talks, Russia’s Middle East negotiator said on Wednesday.

Often referred to as “The Three Bs,” Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov, U.S. Undersecretary of State William Burns and UN-Arab League envoy Brahimi have taken an increasingly central role in the search for an end to the 22-month-old conflict.