Exiled Syrian opposition leaders gathered in Brussels have announced they stand united to form a transitional government to bring about regime change in their country.
Speaking on behalf of the group, former vice-president Abdel-Halim Khaddam said Syria was “in need of salvation from the autocratic regime which has weakened the country”.
He also predicted president Bashar al-Assad faced the same fate as former Romanian dictator Nicolae Ceaucescu in the coming months. Assad is under severe international pressure following the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik al-Hariri last year, which led to the withdrawal of Syria from Lebanon. But Assad says the West needs Damascus as a partner: “They cannot isolate Syria, because if they want to talk about peace process, Syria is essential, they want to talk about stability, we are essential, if they want to talk about fighting terrorism, we are essential, if they want to talk about a stable Iraq in the future, Syria is essential. If they want to isolate Syria, they will isolate themselves from this problem”. It remains unclear how much support the opposition could command in Syria.
And some diplomats say Paris and Washington would be reluctant to risk instability in Damascus as civil unrest grows in neighbouring Iraq and Hamas takes power in the Palestinian territories.