As Assad persists in maintaining his delusional stances and keeps betting on his ability to prevail through violent tactics and idiotic political maneuvers, protesters persist in rejecting him and his promises.
As they did in Deraa City, Assad militias are said to be bussing people to the Al-Ramel Refugee Camp in Lattakia to greet UN delegates on their arrival. The strategy did not work in Deraa City, the report the delegation prepared at the time was still damning, but Assad officials believe that watering down any report even by a small fraction is still t better than the whole truth.
The meeting of opposition members in in Istanbul has come to an end and, contrary to the media blitz that preceded it, it did not call for the establishment of a national council. The message from inside Syria was clear: protest leaders will not back such body. Some diehards might still announce something though in the next few days, and another meeting along the same lines is expected to take place in Cairo soon, but, if, whatever comes of this meeting has even a whiff of a transitional government in it, it will not be backed by protest leaders acting inside the country.
The recently formed Syrian Revolution General Commission, made up of protest leaders working inside Syria, has issued a statement clarifying this trend. While the SRGC is not as encompassing as it might seem, its statement, nonetheless, encapsulates the thinking of most protest leaders. While praising all efforts at consolidating the ranks of the Syrian opposition, the statement urged avoiding any attempt at organizing a “representative project” on behalf of the Syrian people at this stage. In other words, transitional councils will not be popularly appreciated. The logic behind this is very simple really: the people who are risking all to ensure regimefall in Syria by leading a popular grassroots movement that owes very little to the traditional opposition, don’t want to see their revolution hijacked by this opposition, not even for a supposed “transitional” period.
That’s why, the debates that paved the way to the Change in Syria Conference in Antalya on May 31-June 2, agreed on the formation of a Consultative Council meant to advise and act in an ambassadorial capacity on behalf of the revolution not act as its leaders. This is the best that can be achieved at this stage. People should stop pushing for more otherwise we are going to end up with more divisions, not greater unity. A transitional government will only get established on Syrian soil with the full participation of protest leaders. For now, Syrian dissidents abroad can field a set of spokespeople and advisors, both politicians and technocrats, and that’s more than enough to begin the process of engagement.
Another interesting development regarding Antalya is the recent connection its leaders made with the Free Officers Movement and the endorsement they received from it:
"We, the Free Officers Movement, find the final statement of the Syrian Conference for Change (Antalya) a positive beginning to unite the Syrian opposition abroad and to support the Syrian revolution inside Syria, and we hope that these steps will be the main points to establish a real change conference to reach to a democratic and civil Syria, a country for all its people.”
This does not mean that Antalya advocates the militarization of the protest movement. But the protesters have been from day one encouraging defections in army ranks, and calling on defectors to protect the unarmed protesters against Assad thugs, this is what the Free Officers Movement is currently doing, and its stands to reason for any group out there trying to effectively support the revolution to make contacts with it. This is what Antalya did.
So, there it is, and without having to usurp popular will through the imposition of a transitional council, the Antalya Group has been expanding its on-the-ground network and making contacts with the different groups emerging there in order to play a more effective supporting role to the protest movement and its leaders.
As for Bashar Al-Assad’s latest speech, well, what can I say, there is no use beating on a dead horse, even if it still kicking spasmodically.