Nov. 17 (Bloomberg) -- Syria’s main opposition group said it would ask the United Nations to help create buffer zones to protect civilians if President Bashar al-Assad’s government doesn’t comply with an Arab League plan to end the bloodshed.
“If the regime rejects the requests, it shows the world community and the Arab world that it is only trying to buy time,” Wael Merza, secretary general of the Syrian National Council, told Bloomberg Television in an interview in Dubai. “Then the file will be transferred to the international community, to the UN.”
The Arab League yesterday gave Syria three days to stop a violent crackdown on protesters seeking to topple Assad and allow observers into the country. The 22-member League, which has suspended Syria’s participation in its meetings, warned that it would slap economic sanctions on the government and turned down Assad’s call for an Arab summit.
Merza said Syrian security forces have killed more than 4,000 people and have detained 60,000 to 80,000 others since the eruption in mid-March of protests inspired by the uprisings that ousted the leaders of Tunisia and Egypt.
The SNC, which includes secular groups and Islamists both at home and abroad, is rallying support from the Arab League, western countries and Russia to increase the “isolation of the regime,” according to Merza, who said he holds a doctorate in political science with a focus on regime change from Claremont Graduate University in California.
Merza’s group says it will continue to lead a peaceful campaign for regime change. The council is trying to “contain” acts of armed resistance by the military defectors of the Free Syrian Army and described them as “isolated incidents.”
Asked about efforts to oust Assad, Merza said, “I am positive that he will be out of power, this time next year.”
--Editors: Heather Langan, Louis Meixler
To contact the reporters on this story: Lara Setrakian in Dubai at Lsetrakian1@bloomberg.net; Nayla Razzouk in Dubai at firstname.lastname@example.org.
To contact the editor responsible for this story: Riad Hamade at email@example.com.