Syria's Muslim Brotherhood rejects reported Iran proposal
Published Wednesday, January 18, 2012
A leader of a major Syrian opposition party, the Muslim Brotherhood, told Al-Hayat newspaper that his group rejected an Iranian proposal to share power with President Bashar Assad.
The deal allegedly involved the Muslim Brotherhood taking a leading role in a national unity government, in exchange for relinquishing demands for Assad to be removed.
Iran wanted the Muslim Brotherhood to "lead a government [in Syria] on [the] condition we give up our demand to replace Bashar Assad," the group's deputy secretary, Mohammed Faruk Tayfur, told the London-based daily.
The Brotherhood is a significant member of the umbrella opposition group, the Syrian National Council (SNC), and has a long history of enmity against the Assad regime.
The Islamist group launched an armed insurrection against late Syrian President Hafez Assad, father of Bashar, in the 1970s and 1980s, that killed hundreds in the country.
The insurgency was ultimately crushed when Syrian forces swept through Hama in 1982, killing thousands.
The Syrian uprising has propelled the Brotherhood back into the spotlight, as they play a leading role in the SNC in a bid to topple the regime.
Tayfur, speaking from Istanbul, called for "the international community to protect civilians and establish security corridors," while demanding the Arab League transfer the managing of the Syrian crisis to the UN Security Council.
The Muslim Brotherhood has been an open advocate of foreign intervention in Syria, calling in November for Turkey to establish a humanitarian zone in the country.
Its prominent role within the SNC has polarized the opposition, with the more secular National Coordination Body for Democratic Change in Syria (NCB) staunchly opposed to foreign intervention and the militarization of the revolution.
But Tayfur rejected claims that their approach is becoming more radical, despite an SNC announcement last week that it was deepening coordination with armed rebels – the Free Syrian Army – against the regime.
He accused the regime of "pushing [the revolt] towards militarization and sectarianism."
"The regime has the primary responsibility for what is going on in Syria. The Syrian revolution is peaceful. Demonstrators insist on the non-sectarian aspect" of their action, he added.
Meanwhile, Syria's state-owned media stepped up its rhetoric against Qatar ahead of a meeting of the Arab League on Saturday and Sunday which will discuss its proposal for Arab troops as well as the future of the observer mission.
The Gulf state "can help Syria get out of its crisis... by stopping its financing of armed [groups] and the trafficking of weapons" to insurgents, the government newspaper Tishrin charged.
Damascus routinely blames the violence in Syria on "armed groups" and "terrorists" backed by foreign powers pursuing an agenda of regime change.
On Tuesday, the Syrian foreign ministry dismissed the Qatari call for Arab troops to be deployed to halt the bloodshed, which the United Nations says has cost more than 5,400 lives since March.
"Syria rejects the statements of officials of Qatar on sending Arab troops to worsen the crisis ... and pave the way for foreign intervention," a ministry statement said.
World powers are still conflicting over the Syrian crisis, with China welcoming the efforts of Arab League monitors, while the US says it will up the pressure for regime change in Damascus.
"Since the Arab League observer mission began, the violence in Syria has not completely ended, but the security situation of major areas has improved," said Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesman Liu Weimin.
However, US President Barack Obama described the regime's crackdown as "unacceptable" and vowed to redouble efforts to secure a change of government, after White House talks with King Abdullah II of Jordan on Tuesday,
"We will continue to consult very closely with Jordan to create the kind of international pressure and environment that encourages the current Syrian regime to step aside so that a more democratic process and transition can take place inside of Syria," he said.