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Resignation Shows Divisions Hindering Syria’s Opposition

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President  Bashar al-Assad
Syria’s opposition and the U.S. say President Bashar al-Assad should leave office. Photographer: Pankaj Nangia/Bloomberg

Aug. 29 (Bloomberg) -- The internal conflicts within the political leadership of the Syrian opposition were highlighted by the resignation of a prominent voice of the Syrian National Council.

Bassma Kodmani, a Paris-based academic turned revolutionary, quit the main umbrella organization of the Syrian opposition citing divisions within the group that prevent it from achieving common goals. She said she is “disappointed with how the council has worked on several levels,” without offering any details.

Her comments suggest that the exile-led SNC, which the U.S. has worked with in to prepare for a political transition, may not be able to forge a united front against the current Syrian regime and lead the way to a democratic government.

“I decided to leave the council because of a difference of views over how to move forward and because I thought I could be more productive working on the outside,” Kodmani said in a telephone interview. She said she will work with other groups, mainly in humanitarian relief.

Meanwhile, Fayssal Mekdad, Syria’s deputy foreign minister, said that keeping President Bashar al-Assad was “the sovereign will of the Syrian people.” Assad is part of the solution to the country’s crisis and his resignation will never be discussed with the opposition, Mekdad said in an interview during a summit of the Non-Aligned Movement in Tehran yesterday.

His comments contrasted with remarks by Deputy Prime Minister Qadri Jamil, who last week said Assad’s departure might be discussed if there were talks with rebels. The opposition and the U.S. say the president should leave office.

Refugee Tide

United Nations efforts to end the 17-month conflict have faltered as military monitors left the country last week and the organization’s envoy, Kofi Annan, this month resigned and accused world powers of “finger-pointing and name-calling.” The pullback has been accompanied by an upsurge of fighting, with battles engulfing areas of the country’s two biggest cities, Damascus and Aleppo.

The United Nations refugee agency warned yesterday that the tide of Syrians leaving the country was rising. The number reaching northern Jordan doubled to 10,000 in the week to Aug. 27, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees said on its website.

At least 26 Jordanian security personnel were injured, one of them in critical condition during clashes with Syrian refugees protesting poor services inside Al-Zeaytar camp, state-run Petra News Agency said yesterday. Jordan’s government condemned what is described as an attack on its security forces by Syrian refugees, Petra said, citing government spokesman Sameeh Maayteh.

Aid Sought

Turkey now hosts more than 80,000 refugees and has asked the UN Security Council to discuss how the costs can be shared more widely, Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu told reporters in Ankara on Aug. 27.

“We’ll emphasize that from now on it shouldn’t just be Syria’s neighbors -- Turkey, Jordan, Lebanon, Iraq -- that must shoulder the burden, but the entire international community,” he said.

Syrian security forces killed at least 142 people across the country yesterday, Al Arabiya television reported, citing Syrian Network for Human Rights.

A booby-trapped cab parked near a cemetery exploded during a funeral procession in Jaramana near Damascus yesterday, the state-run Sana news agency said. At least 12 people were killed and 48 wounded in the blast, state television reported. Iran’s Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi, meanwhile called on the Non-Aligned Movement summit to consider the “restoration of peace and tranquility in Syria as a main agenda” item, Iran’s Fars news agency reported.

Mekdad praised Iran’s stance as “positive and excellent.” He said the opposition has given a “negative response” to negotiations and seeks to implement a “Zionist, U.S. and Western solution.”

The Syrian uprising, which began as a peaceful protest movement in March 2011, has defied regional and international efforts to resolve it. More than 23,000 lives have been lost during the unrest, the U.K.-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights estimates.

To contact the reporters on this story: Flavia Krause-Jackson in United Nations at; Yeganeh Salehi in Dubai at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Andrew J. Barden at

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