A Syrian opposition group set out proposals for a transition from President Bashar al-Assad’s rule, as the United Nations envoy in the region seeks backing for a cease-fire in the forthcoming Islamic holiday.
Lakhdar Brahimi, the UN diplomat, said during a visit to Jordan that a truce for next week’s Eid Al Adha festival could be extended and form the basis of a political process to end the 19-month conflict, Jordan’s state news agency Petra reported. Syrian rebel groups have welcomed Brahimi’s proposal, which is also supported by Turkey and Iran.
The conflict in Syria has claimed more than 30,000 lives, according to the opposition Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. Fighting continued near the Turkish border today, with gunfire near the Syrian town of Azmarin, Turkey’s Anatolia news agency said. Turkey’s army yesterday retaliated after a shell fired from Syria landed in Turkish territory, NTV reported.
Brahimi’s mission is “animated by a faint flickering of hope that the various parties may recognize they can’t expect to ‘win’ a knock-out victory,” Jeff Laurenti, an analyst at the Century Foundation, a New York-based research group, said in e-mailed comments.
For Brahimi’s proposal to work, he would need to provide guarantees that Assad’s forces will not use a cease-fire to “buy time to crush the rebels more later,” Murhaf Jouejati, a U.S.-based professor and member of the opposition Syrian National Council, said in Ankara today.
Jouejati was among about 45 Syrian opposition figures who met in the Turkish capital to present proposals for Syria after Assad. An earlier version of the Western-backed project, entitled “The Day After: Supporting a Democratic Transition in Syria,” was announced in Berlin in August.
Its recommendations include vetting rogue elements of the Free Syrian Army, abolishing Syria’s intelligence service, the Muhkhabarat, and setting up tribunals to prosecute officials blamed for the bloodshed, in order to prevent revenge killings.
Jouejati’s group says it has begun disseminating the ideas inside Syria with the help of activists, including students, to get feedback.
“Particularly key here are armed groups, because those who are taking the shots against Assad will be calling the shots immediately after he is gone,” said Andrew Tabler, a Middle East analyst at the Washington Institute for Near East Studies, in e-mailed comments. “This plan can help civilians keep the Syrian revolution from being hijacked.”