“Currently, we are working on documents regarding the rights of the Alawites in Syria. Although some Alawites have made mistakes when it comes to their Syrian brothers, the new administration will protect Alawite rights in the post-Assad era, taking into consideration their identities,” said Sieda. The Syrian regime, its president and his cronies are Alawites, which is a religious sect centered in Syria, composing nearly 15 percent of the total population. In an interview with Today's Zaman, Sieda said the crisis in Syria was not a struggle between Sunnis and Alawites but between the Syrian regime and all the opposition groups in Syria, including Arabs, Kurds, Alawites, Christians and Sunnis.
When asked what the plan was for the post-Assad era, Sieda replied that the first plan was to form a transitional government. “We will form a committee that would work on a new constitution. Later, free elections will take place,” said Sieda.
Syrian opposition groups struggled to form a united leadership at a meeting in Cairo which was held earlier this month, preventing them from effectively leading the uprising against Assad. When asked about the rift between the opposition in exile and the one on the ground, Sieda said it was not easy to unite the opposition under one roof, but he rejected the idea of a split among the opposition. “The SNC has relations with several opposition groups. Some of them have joined the SNC,” said Sieda.
Meanwhile, the Syrian branch of the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) has decided to form a political party to take a more active role on the political scene.
When asked if it was possible for the MB to take power after the toppling of the regime, similar to what happened in Egypt, Sieda stated that the situations in Syria and Egypt differ from each other. “The experience of the Syrian MB is different from the MB in Egypt. The Syrian MB has been working for more than 50 years in Syria and is an important group in the SNC,” said Sieda.
Touching upon the Kurdish position in the opposition, Sieda, a Kurdish leader, stated that Kurds had diverse opinions among themselves, adding there were Kurdish groups supporting Assad.
The Kurdish National Assembly (SKUM), an umbrella organization encompassing 16 Kurdish parties, has the strongest base among Kurds and is a keen opponent of the Assad regime.
While the organization has yet to join the SNC, negotiations are still ongoing, said Sieda. “The SNC has good relations with SKUM. The SNC has a national document regarding the rights of the Kurds in Syria,” said Sieda.
In response to a question over what form of state the SNC would prefer, a federal form of state or a unitary form, Sieda said the best form for Syria was a unitary state, adding it was not the time for federalism.
Syrian opposition forces penetrated the heart of Syria’s power elite last Wednesday, detonating a bomb inside a high-level crisis meeting in Damascus that killed three leaders of the regime.
The unprecedented blow to the ruling dynasty could mark a turning point in the 16-month long crisis in Syria. When asked whether the recent bombing weakened the Assad regime, Sieda replied that the bombing incident was a signal to show that the regime has lost control and balance. “The ones who died were the important figures of the Assad regime. I can say that the end for the regime is coming. This incident was the beginning of the end,” said Sieda.
The revolt in Syria has dragged on for far longer than any other Arab Spring uprising, in part because of Assad’s unwillingness to meet the demands of the Syrian people, but also because of rifts among world powers.
“The international community should speak with one voice, keeping all the alternatives on the table. We do not want a military intervention. But the international community should show the regime that a military intervention is also a possibility,” said Sieda.
Touching upon the Russian stance in the crisis, Sieda stated that Russia should change its position in the crisis, adding that the international community should pressure Russia to stop its support of the Assad regime. “If Russia will continue to support the Assad regime, not only the Syrian people but also the people in the Arab World will feel hatred against Russia. We want to have friendly relation with Russia. But we cannot accept our people having to pay the price of this relation with their blood,” said Sieda, adding that the Syrian opposition is urging Russia to stop sending weapons to Syrian regime.
The SNC met with the Russian foreign minister last Wednesday with the aim of pushing Russia to accept Assad’s ouster as part of a political transition in Syria, but saw no change in Moscow’s stance toward Assad.
Russia used its veto power three times in the UN Security Council to shield Syria from harsher international sanctions. “The UN is still working with the old rules from the World W II era. These rules must be changed. Russia cannot continue to veto resolutions against Assad,” said Sieda, adding a solution besides the UN Security Council must be found.
When asked how to change the Iranian influence in the crisis, Sieda said Iran must understand that the situation in Syria will change, adding Iran needs to prepare itself for a period without Assad. “We are not against Iran. But, there should be respect for reality,” said Sieda, adding that the Syrian opposition didn’t have direct talks with Iran due to the arms support it has given to the regime.
Touching upon the shooting down of a Turkish jet by Syrian forces last June, Sieda stated that the jet incident was a part of the Syrian crisis, which the Assad regime aims to export to neighboring countries, including Turkey and Lebanon.
Sieda also said that chemicals weapons in Syria were being used as a propaganda tool. “After the regime falls, these weapons will be in secure hands. There would be no danger,” said Sieda.