Reports about Syria come fast and furiously. Just yesterday, the big news was that Iranian President Ahmadinejad urged Syrian President Bashar Assad to stop the violence and implement some of the reforms the opposition demands. A bit of bizarre political theater given Iran’s brutal crackdown on those protesting election fraud in June, 2009, but still adding to the Assad’s regime’s isolation, especially considering the Syrian’s ruling Alawi sect’s closeness to the Shias who run Iran. Turkey, Syria’s neighbor to the west, had already denounced the regime’s violence, despite the two country’s trading ties. For the last few years, Turkey had feverishly courted Syria as an Arab gateway to increase its influence in the Arab world.
Today’s headlines are especially good news. According to a report in Syrian Comment, one of the most authoritative blogs on Syrian politics, opposition groups met in Turkey for two days. Among the attendees were 70 from the Kurdish minority. They called on President Assad to step down and hand power over to the Vice-President to pave the way for democratic elections.
The Muslim Brotherhood, tribal leaders, Islamist, the older secular opposition and the young opposition were all represented. They elected a 31-member executive committee to lead an umbrella opposition council was.
Among steps and statements of policy the conference endorsed:
1. Separation of church and state, a debate won by the secularists against the Brotherhood and Islamist parties.
2. No reprisals on the Alawi sect.
3. No foreign intervention.
4. No discrimination among sects
This is all uplifting news in the deadly battle for control of Syria.