MEV Senior Reporter Cecily Hilleary has recently been engaged on Twitter and in emails with a purported Syrian citizen whom, in order to protect his identity, we will call by his Twitter name, @chamsyria. In one email, @chamsyria expressed concern about the opposition Syrian National Council (SNC), suggesting that a group that seems to be bending to U.S. interests and operating outside Syria is not qualified to speak for Syrians or determine Syria’s post-Assad future. @chamsyria says that all of his attempt to contact the SNC for comment were unsuccessful. Hilleary reached out to Dr. Murhaf Jouejati of the SNC’s Foreign Relations Bureau asking whether the organization could address @chamsyria’s concerns.
Below please find @chamsyria’s email to Hilleary as well as the SNC’s response to it (@chamsyria’s email has been edited for clarity, but no substantive changes have been made).
The problem is that after forty years of living in an information blackout, we need more transparency. We want to know whether these people [in the SNC] are honest or not; they also need to talk with people on our side. Notice how this gentleman [on Twitter], when I asked him who gave them [the SNC] the right to lead and why, he said there are no other choices.
I would ask him, “Why no other choices?”… Why do we have to choose between two bad systems [the Assad regime and the SNC] – one is very bloody and other talks about democracy, but never acts as a democracy?
“The SNC has not yet convinced me that they are good to represent me and to lead the country…” @chamsyria
I wrote a letter to one person on the SNC on Facebook. The next day, I found my account was closed. I created another Facebook profile and sent a second message to another SNC member, but got no answer. I also tweeted to two of them; one never answered and the other blocked me.
The point is that those people cannot and must not lead Syria in the same mentality and manner as the regime. They have to be different. They have to understand people on the inside, not those on the outside. We are very different from the image the U.S. has about Syrian people. There is a big difference between what’s good for the people of the U.S. and for Syrians, and vice versa.
Also, what majority has been chosen to be in the SNC? Do you notice how they fight for positions and split up the opposition? Why do they do that? Every day they have an issue to fight for, while we here in Syria are dying.
Here in Syria, the revolution needs a leader. The SNC has not yet convinced me that they are good to represent me and to lead the country.
Following is the response by SNC member Dr. Murhaf Jouejati
The Syrian National Council (SNC) is the largest Syrian opposition group. It is opposed to the authoritarian regime of Bashar Assad. The SNC is a coalition of different Syrian political forces with different ideologies. These include political parties, movements, and independent individuals. It is cross-sectarian and cross-ethnic. It seeks to end the Assad dictatorship in Syria and to establish, instead, a civil and democratic state in which all Syrians are equal before the law and in which all political parties can compete democratically.
“The SNC is not a transitional government nor does it pretend to be…” – Murhaf Jouejati, SNC
The SNC is composed of Syrians from all walks of life. Its membership is scattered around the globe. It includes political forces and individual members operating inside and outside Syria.
Structurally, the SNC includes three bodies: the Presidential Council (10 different groups); the executive committee (31 individuals representing their respective groups); and a general assembly (about 230 individuals from a variety of political forces). The SNC is currently restructuring so as to include more political forces (several more from the inside); the general assembly will expand to 400 members.
The SNC is not a transitional government nor does it pretend to be. Rather, it is an opposition group that is preparing the ground for the emergence of a transitional government that, following the collapse of the Assad regime, would include political forces and individuals from the entire Syrian opposition – not just from the SNC.
I do hope the above answers your questions. I am happy to go in further detail should you or others have more questions.
Murhaf Jouejati, Ph.D.
Syrian National Council
Foreign Relations Bureau
Cecily began her reporting career in the 1990s, covering US Middle East policy for Dubai-TV English. She has lived and/or worked in the Middle East, North Africa and Gulf regions, consulting and producing for several regional radio and television networks and production houses, including MBC, Al-Arabiya, the former Emirates Media Incorporated and Al-Ikhbaria. She brings to VOA and MEV a keen understanding of the region's top social, cultural and political issues.