National Salvation Front press conference – Brussels

publisher: القبس AL Qabas

Publishing date: 2006-03-18

In a remarkable step that would increase pressure on the Syrian regime, especially internally, Syrian opposition members, including former Vice President Abdul Halim Khaddam and the General Controller of the Muslim Brotherhood, Ali Sadr al-Din al-Bayanouni, announced yesterday in Brussels the establishment of the “National Salvation Front.” In order to change the regime peacefully in Syria.
The New Front called on “all opposition forces to cooperate, within the framework of the Front or with it, in order to achieve the aspirations of our people for change and salvation from the current situation that has weakened Syria in the face of challenges.”
Change in a few months

Khaddam confirmed before the meeting was held that “the Syrian people are tired of the current situation and we expect that many new circumstances will lead to a people’s uprising.”
He predicted “regime change within a few months,” saying that President Bashar al-Assad is making many mistakes and “putting himself in a hole,” and that the economic and social situation has become increasingly unbearable. He expected that he would direct an investigation into the assassination. President Rafik Hariri directly accused Assad, which is a restriction that leads to the fall of the leadership
For his part, Al-Bayanouni said, “This (Syrian) regime has fulfilled all the causes of collapse, has no popular base, is isolated internally, and commits mistakes in foreign policy that make it isolated internationally. He confirmed to Al-Qabas that there are contacts with basic forces at home, including Alawites, and Obaida Nahhas, director of the Arab Orient Institute in London, explained that the meeting was attended by forces and figures including Islamists, liberals, leftists, nationalists, and supporters of the Damascus Declaration.
National project for change

The document issued by the meeting in Brussels and under the name “National Project for Change” indicated that Syria is exposed to two dangers: the first is internal, represented by the regime’s policies, and the second is external, “brought upon the country by improvised and irresponsible decisions.”
The document confirmed that the change project is based on its own strengths, “taking advantage of the changing international and regional climate,” according to several mechanisms, including
- Exposing the truth about the tyrannical and corrupt regime to the world to lift the lid on it
- Exposing the policies of Islam and its weakness, and neglecting the principles that the regime follows to maintain its survival
- Intensifying contacts with Arab countries to reveal the suffering of the Syrian people, and expose the blatant violations of human rights, as for civil society institutions in the world, as well as human suffering, in light of the state of emergency, martial laws, and exceptional courts.
Speech until civil disobedience

- Establishing the foundations of a media mobilization discourse undertaken by all opposition factions, to bring the people to a state of civil disobedience.
- The opposition comes together at home and abroad to bring about change and come together on common goals, rejecting all forms of totalitarian thought, welcoming everyone who wants to join the front, emphasizing the essential role of women in society, focusing on preparing the rising generations, and working to address the economic situation in all its aspects.
The goal of the desired change is to build Syria as a modern civil state, whose political system is based on a social contract, emerging from a democratic constitution that respects pluralism, is based on the peaceful transfer of power, and expels the specter of chaos and civil war, which the regime has always feared.
- Work to get rid of the policy of isolation that has shattered national unity, especially the grave injustice that befell the Kurdish people
Foreign Policy

As for foreign policy, the Front has placed as its top priority the restoration of the occupied Golan, supporting the steadfast people there, and supporting the Palestinian people to restore their full rights in accordance with the relevant United Nations resolutions.
The document also stipulated the necessity of restoring cohesion and fraternal relations with the State of Lebanon, based on common interests and historical relations between the two peoples on the basis of brotherly and good-neighborly relations.
It also stipulated to stop interfering in Arab affairs, and to strive to build Arab solidarity on a solid foundation, by activating cooperation agreements, especially the Arab Common Market.
The Front also stood in solidarity with the Iraqi people in their efforts to preserve their national unity and achieve their independence and sovereignty
It also adhered to the United Nations Charter, its resolutions, and all agreements concluded by the previous Syrian government
The participants indicated in conclusion that they would meet after 45 days, most likely in Brussels, to continue consultations and reach the formation of an interim government.
To a question about the currents in the opposition, Khaddam answered, “There is the reformist current in the Baath Party, there is the Islamic current represented by the Muslim Brotherhood, there is the liberal current represented by Dr. Hossam Al-Dairi, and there are the democratic currents represented by the rest of the people, such as Professor Jean Abdullah, Dr. Salah Ayyash, and Professor Mazen.” Mayali. Those present represent the nationalist movement, the Islamic movement, the liberal movement, and the democratic movement, in addition to some independents.”
Regarding how Islamists and former representatives of the regime met when they had disagreements, Khaddam said, “In any case, the picture is not the same, but there are many examples in history. The communist countries and the Soviet Union met with the Western capitalist leadership represented by the United States of America, then Britain and France during World War II. This is Knowing that we are citizens of one country, we belong to one people, and we have the same aspirations and ambitions to build our country.”
Khaddam said, “It is normal for all Syrians to meet, especially in the difficult circumstances that the country is going through. There is no hostility so that we can say that hostility prevents meeting. There is cooperation, there is mutual trust, and there is an aspiration to the future, not an attachment to the past... No one can bring us back.” To the past or push us to live in its shadow. I confirm that our hands are extended to all honorable Baathists who are willing to contribute to the process of national democratic change.”
Regarding whether the opposition is counting on the support of Arab countries for peaceful, democratic change, the former Syrian Vice President said, “We are counting on the Syrian people and welcome any political support to uncover the regime, but the change will take place in Syria and by the Syrian people.”
Regarding the size or weight of the internal support enjoyed by the opposition in Syria, Khaddam asked, “Do you believe that a people is exposed to daily humiliation, has widespread unemployment, suffers from the injustice of the security services directed by the head of the state, and does not sleep in safety for fear that their door will be knocked on at night and taken to prison? Do you believe that this is The people do not want change? The entire Syrian people want change. The issue cannot be measured in kilograms, and in any case, in the next stage you will see whether the Syrian people are with us or not.”
Before that, Reuters reported that Khaddam, who took time out of negotiations between opponents in a conference room in a hotel in Brussels, expected a popular rebellion to overthrow Assad soon.
He explained that "poverty is very widespread, corruption is also very widespread, security measures are very tight, people do not have freedom of expression, and the economic situation is at its worst," adding that "all these factors combined are very similar to the situation that led to the rebellion in Romania."
Like the men who ruled Romania after the overthrow of Ceausescu and his wife, who were executed by firing squad after a summary trial in 1989, Khaddam expected that the Syrian people would look to reformists from the ruling party to rule them after a revolution.
The former Vice President, who remained in power for 35 years until a rift broke out between him and Assad last year, said that there is a large section of reformists in the Baath Party who fully support his actions and that they will be active partners in changing the regime without a massacre occurring.
Khaddam added that Assad directed policy making in the interest of a small, close family circle. He said that what is actually happening is that he gives the interests of the family around him priority in the decisions that are made, adding that he means “Al-Assad himself, his brother Maher Al-Assad, his brother-in-law Assef Shawkat, and very close family members.”
He pointed out that the interest of this family is what drives Syrian decision-making.
Khaddam said that the regime is essentially led by the president himself, and therefore if the president of the regime falls or collapses, the entire regime will collapse.
He was asked when he expected a rebellion to break out, and he replied that he was sure it would happen this year within a few months, adding that Assad was making many mistakes and digging a hole for himself.
Al-Bayanouni, who was the other main figure among 17 men around the table in Brussels, told Reuters that he expected the UN investigation, which has so far implicated Syrian security officials, to directly accuse the Syrian president.
Al-Bayanouni, who shows moderation and says that his movement would welcome sharing power with a reformed Baath Party, explained that "Khaddam joined the side of the people to promote democratic change."
Supporters within the Baath
Abdul Halim Khaddam confirmed that he has many supporters within the ruling Baath Party and in the army, and said, “‘They will be active partners in changing the regime and there will be no massacres.’”
No imposition of Sharia rules

The General Controller of the Muslim Brotherhood, Ali Sadr al-Din al-Bayanouni, confirmed that the opposition agreed to a civil constitution and that his movement would not seek to impose the provisions of Islamic Sharia in Syria.
He added that people turn to the Muslim Brotherhood throughout the Arab world when they are given a democratic option because of the failure of secularists and Arab nationalists while they were in power.
He went on to say: We believe that in the current situation in the Arab world, the Islamic trend is a broad phenomenon, and if free elections are held, this trend will take its place.
The Executive Program of the Salvation Front: A transitional government and elections after the abolition of the state of emergency

The political, economic and social forces will take the initiative to form a transitional government, which will be ready to take over the administration of the country at the appropriate moment, and will undertake to protect the country from chaos and all forms of internal conflict. It will assume responsibility for the two powers: legislative and executive, and protect the judiciary, to exercise its role in protecting rights and enforcing... The prestige of justice is upon the people, and this transitional government takes upon itself the following matters:
First: Abolishing the 1973 Constitution with all its defects, and adopting the 1950 Constitution as a basic transitional reference for all its actions and policies.
Second: Lifting the state of emergency in effect since 1963, and abolishing all forms of exceptional courts.
Fourth: Repeal Law No. 49 of 1980, which stipulates the death penalty for all members of the Muslim Brotherhood.
Fifth: Release all political detainees, reveal the fate of the missing, restore dignity to them, compensate their families, and restore civil rights to those deprived of them for political reasons.
Sixth: Abolishing all measures that prevent Syrian citizens from returning to their homeland.
Seventh: Granting citizenship to those deprived or stripped of it.
Eighth: Issuing a law for parties and associations that guarantees citizens the right to organize their political and social lives, according to their visions, beliefs, and choices, in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution.
Ninth: Enacting a media law that guarantees freedom of opinion and expression within the framework of the constitution.
Tenth: Issuing an election law that guarantees freedom of choice on the basis of proportional representation, while adopting the governorate as an electoral district in order to ensure the participation of all components of the Syrian people.
After the abolition of the emergency and exceptional laws and procedures, and the enactment of the Media, Parties, and Election Law, the transitional government will hold elections to choose the Constituent Assembly, before the end of its term, and the mission of the Constituent Assembly will be:
1- Drawing up a constitution for the country.
2 - A government emerges from the Assembly that exercises executive powers and is accountable to the Council.
3 - The Constituent Assembly exercises legislative powers.