Beirut, Asharq Al-Awsat— The Syrian National Coalition is set to hold an emergency meeting to discuss the recent statements by its leader Moaz Alkhatib.
A high ranking source within the Syrian National Coalition informed Asharq Al-Awsat that the opposition coalition is set to hold an emergency meeting within the next few days, at the request of some of its members, to discuss unilateral statements made by Alkhatib last week. In these statements, Alkhatib expressed his readiness to hold dialogue with representatives of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s regime.
Alkhatib’s statements came as a "surprise" to members, particularly as these comments were made without any prior coordination. Some considered Alkhatib’s proposal evidence of the opposition's "frustration" regarding the possibility of ousting the Assad regime. Members of the opposition coalition are dismayed at what they dubbed Sheikh Alkhatib’s "confused media performance."
The Syrian National Coalition source said Alkhatib’s recent statements are likely the result of “fear or some kind of deeply-held hesitation or the result of pressure being exerted by those close to him” adding “perhaps he was seeking to express some of his apprehensions by issuing this statement.”
The source, who spoke to Asharq Al-Awsat on the condition of anonymity, said that Alkhatib took a unilateral decision to put forward the idea of negotiations, but stressed that this idea was opposed by the Syrian National Coalition and this was a personal position on his part.
The source said, “The coalition's official stance is clear. It rejects any negotiations with the regime” adding “At the Doha meeting, during which the Syrian National Coalition was formed, the Syrian National Council proposed to add the phrase 'negotiations will only be head following the ouster of the regime’, however this was replaced—for fear of misrepresentation—with the phrase ‘’there will be no negotiations with the regime.”
The Syrian National Coalition source also told Asharq Al-Awsat, “It was agreed that an initiative would be proposed at a later date, after the opposition parties had reached a consensus, regarding what type of dialogue or negotiations could be conducted with the regime over its departure.”
Moreover, head of the Syrian National Council’s legal bureau, Dr. Hisham Marwah, told Asharq Al-Awsat, “What Alkhatib attempted was an initiative that needs to be endorsed by the coalition's general commission so that it is legitimate and constitutional. In other words, it needs authorization by the coalition."
Dr. Marwah did not deny that many members of the Syrian National Coalition were “surprised” by Alkhatib’s statements, adding that some of them had even asked him to resign.
He added, “However, I believe that such a move is premature and should wait until the emergency meeting of the Syrian National Coalition which should take place very soon.”