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19 Feb, 2012 11:11

Third member joins Syrian opposition club

Opposition members in Syria have started a new political bloc, aiming to topple the country’s President Bashar al-Assad. This third anti-Assad group further fragments the Syrian opposition.

The new National Bloc for Change, consisting of 80 prominent opposition figures, lawyers, clerics and activists, says it was created to support and coordinate the ongoing “revolution” in Syria. The group adds to the already existing Syrian National Council, based abroad, and Syria’s National Coordination Committee, operating domestically.   “The organization came into being to support the revolution and to consolidate its principles … and to spur participation in building a future that includes all Syrians,” one of the bloc’s founders, Ammar Qarbi, was quoted by Al Arabiya television as saying. The bloc’s leadership said they support ‘any movement against Assad’s regime’, ‘the revolution’ and the ‘free army’. Once Bashar al-Assad is ousted, Syria will not be ruled by just one faction as now, another bloc’s founder, Bahiya Mardini, was quoted by the television as saying. The ruling Baath party has a constitutional monopoly for power in Syria. Following the popular uprising, President al-Assad’s regime proposed a new constitution, allowing a multi-party system in the country. The referendum for the new constitution is due to be held on February 26 but is expected to be sabotaged by the opposition groups. The National Coordination Committee was quoted by AFP news agency as saying that it is impossible for them to vote “before an end to the violence and killing.”Saturday saw the talks between the Syrian President and Chinese envoy Zhai Jun, who paid an official visit to the country. China, along with Russia opposes military intervention in Syria and is attempting to mediate the conflict, calling for a political settlement. Zhai Jun expressed hope that the two sides will be able to stop the bloodshed in the country and approach peaceful dialogue.Karl Sharro, a Middle East blogger based in London, notes the erratic nature of Western policy, particularly in US policy towards Syria. Speaking to RT, Sharro proposed a hypothetical dilemma: “Assume Assad were to step down tomorrow. Who’s actually the legitimate political opposition to take control? And when the West talks about supporting the Gulf States, this side or that side, who are actually the groups that you would go to and finance or give support to? So within the vacuum who would step in?”Sharro said the West should step back and try to cool things down before they escalate out of control.