The Opposition’s Six Point Plan on Syria
On the sidelines of a workshop on transitional justice that took place in The Hague on April 3-5, a group of Syrian activists and opposition members representing the Syrian National Council, the Kurdish National Council, the National Assembly for Kurdistan in Syria, The Muslim Brotherhood, the Assyrian Democratic Organization, the Popular Resistance Bloc and a number of independent activists from different political and communal backgrounds, working with advisers from Public International Law and Policy Group met and put together this plan which represents the emerging consensus in their respective groups. As members of the international watch on as the Assad regime fail to honor Kofi Annan’s own 6-points plan, they should bear in mind that the opposition does have an alternative in mind and is more than capable of playing its role in its implementation.
1. Arm the local resistance. This is a popular demand for Syrian revolutionaries, and the need for this move in the face of continued violations by the Assad regime cannot be denied any more. Despite occasional lapses, most local resistance groups remain dedicated solely to defending their communities against attacks by pro-Assad death squads and troops, and have not embarked on any vendetta activities in any of the regions under their control despite the highly mixed character of these regions. This is a good signs of things to come should the local resistance get the support they need. Moreover, supporting local resistance groups will enable emerging leaders inside and outside the country to establish a clear command structure and prevent further fragmentation of resistance activities, while ensuring adherence to international standards and covenants on armed resistance.
2. Establish safe havens and provide aerial support to the local resistance. This is another popular demand. By providing safe zones and establishing an aerial cover, the international community will help shorten the potential period of conflict by weakening the ability of the Assad death squads to operate.
3. Increase diplomatic pressures. Diplomatic pressures may not be having the desired effect at this stage, but when combined with increased support to the resistance and aerial strikes, the situation could change drastically, and Assad officials might find it useful under the changing conditions to listen to the demands made by the international community.
4. Encourage defections by top officials by providing a series of conditional amnesties with specific start and end dates. Calls for defections may have gone unheeded before, mainly because the necessary conditions for them to be taken seriously have not been provided. The previous steps elaborated above could create a new context, encourage more defections and seriously undermine the Assads’ hold on power.
5. Identify countries that can provide future peacekeepers who can be immediately sent to liberated territories to ensure stabilization and prevent potential retributions. While boots on the ground may not be needed in the actual fight against pro-Assad death squads and militias, the need for their involvement in the immediate stabilization period cannot be overstated. Future peacekeepers should be chosen from countries where the population has no communal ties to any of the groups in Syria in order to maintain perception of neutrality.
6. Support ongoing efforts by opposition groups in regard to transition planning and capacity building for the transition period. This could be done by providing support to such efforts as: a) workshops dedicated to charting the path for national reconciliation, ensuring and increasing woman participation, and tackling important constitutional challenges such providing for communal protections; b) programs for capacity building, such as training judges and law enforcement officers, rehabilitating and reintegrating militia members, both pro- and anti-Assad, into state institutions and society at large; and c) providing support for media activities dedicated to national reconciliation and the promotion of civic and democratic values.