Syrian opposition discusses post-Assad transition in Istanbul


A group of senior figures representing a large spectrum of the Syrian opposition gathered to build consensus on a post-Assad Syria at a conference in Istanbul on Monday. Titled "Managing the Transition in Syria: Challenges and a Vision for the Future," the gathering seeks to unify the views among the Syrian opposition regarding a democratic transition following the potential fall of embattled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's regime. The conference is being organized for the first time by the Syrian Center for Political and Strategic Studies (SCPSS) and will last for three days from Oct. 29-31 at the Eser Diamond Hotel and Convention Center. According to information obtained by Today's Zaman, approximately 230 participants, including political and opposition leaders and activists from all political parties, attended the first day of the conference. Al Jazeera, the Turkish Radio and Television Corporation (TRT) and the İhlas news agency are among the media organizations that followed the conference the first day. The conference is also expected to host senior figures of the Syrian opposition, including Abdul Basit Sida, the head of the Syrian National Council (SNC), the main opposition group seeking the ousting of Assad, and former Syrian Prime Minister Dr. Riad Hijab, who recently defected from the Syrian regime. "Day after day, Syrians come to realize that the overthrow of the Assad regime is a necessity, no matter the human and material cost," Dr. Radwan Ziadeh, executive director of SCPSS, told Today's Zaman. Ziadeh added that the need for considering the transitional period has grown increasingly great now that large swaths of Syrian territory are no longer under control of the Assad regime, including several crossings along the Turkish and Iraqi borders. "It is imperative that Syrians build a central authority capable of managing newly liberated territory in the transitional period," said Ziadeh. A number of leaders and members of the SNC, the Kurdish National Council, the Assyrian Democratic Organization, the Damascus Declaration, the Muslim Brotherhood, the Syrian Revolution General Commission, the Syrian Scholars Commission, representatives from local coordinating committees and other political powers inside and outside Syria, defected Syrian ambassadors, and a number of other former Syrian diplomats are also expected to attend the conference. Leaders of the Free Syrian Army (FSA), the most prominent of several armed groups fighting to overthrow Assad, and other armed battalions are also included in the attention-grabbing participants expected at the conference. A number of local civil administration council leaders from Aleppo, Homs, Deir al-Zor, Idlib and a suburb of Damascus are also among those listed as participants. Conference attendees are scheduled to discuss several topics, including constitutional, legal, political and administrative reform, electoral law and mechanisms for activating and organizing the public, civil and political participation, reforming security services and building a modern national army during the workshops taking place on Tuesday. Unlike the first and third day of the conference, the sessions on this day will be closed off to the press. The results of the gathering will be discussed at a press conference at the end of the day on Wednesday. Recently, a group from the Syrian opposition also gathered in Ankara to present their plan for the transition era, titled "The Day After: Supporting a Democratic Transition in Syria." Approximately 70 participants, including diplomats, academics, government officials and members of the press, attended the meeting, which was hosted by the Center for Middle Eastern Strategic Studies (ORSAM).