PARIS (Reuters) - A group of Syrians opposed to President Bashar al-Assad have created an alliance of technocrats to help fill a void of expertise within the opposition and lay out a roadmap for Syria once its current leadership falls, a founder said on Monday.
Set up by U.S.-based doctor and activist Ayham Haddad and the owner of Orient TV Ghassan Abboud, the Syrian Alliance for Democracy was born out of frustration at the slowness in forming a structured opposition.
It is made up from a mix of Syrians abroad, exiles, and professionals who never left the country — which is now in its seventh month of a violent crackdown by Assad’s government on pro-democracy unrest.
“The Syrian opposition could not form an organization to represent the people and still disagree (among themselves),” Haddad, who left Syria in 1992 after being held for three years for belonging to a banned party, told Reuters in Paris.
“There are a lot of political games, so we thought about how technocrats and professionals could help deal with the crisis because they are independent from the political parties.”
A broad opposition grouping under the banner of the National Council formed earlier this month, bringing in academics, grassroots activists, the Muslim Brotherhood and the Damascus Declaration.
It wants to be recognized internationally as representative of those who are ranged against Assad, but continues to face criticism over its ability to unite all strands of the opposition both inside and outside the country.
Abboud’s television station was taken off the air in Damascus in July but has resumed broadcasting from the United Arab Emirates.
He said the alliance was not competing with the Council, but wanted to bring neutral technocrats from everywhere into the fold where they offer professional expertise on how to coordinate at present and in the future.
“We respect all the efforts made in Istanbul and elsewhere to unify the opposition, but this Council must have the will of the people inside Syria and clarify its position,” Abboud said. “For now, everyone has the common goal that the regime must fall, but the political parties are not ready to lead the country after the regime falls.”
The alliance says it has support from various parties, representatives of committees in Syria and the Damascus Declaration to press ahead with its initiative.
It says it has about 60 technocrats working for it ranging from lawyers, scientists, economists, former diplomats and even currently serving military officials.
“In the transition period, we’ll need people to deal with our real problems ... health, education, the military as we now have people armed on the streets. We need to deal with these issues and cannot let immature guys throw slogans left and right,” Haddad said.