- Bashar al-Assad - Syria - unrest
'Tlass, ex-PM Hijab have no place in future Syrian govt'
Abdulbaset Sieda (photo), president of the Syrian National Council, told FRANCE 24 on Wednesday that there is no place for General Manaf Tlass or former Prime Minister Riad Hijab in a future transition government. Both men recently fled Syria.
In an exclusive interview with FRANCE 24, Abdulbaset Sieda, the head of the Syrian National Council (a coalition of Syrian opposition groups), said that General Manaf Tlass and former Syrian Prime Minister Riad Hijab would not be part of a future transition government. The two politicians, both previously members of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s regime, recently fled Syria.
Sieda’s remark comes on the heels of his meeting with Tlass in Paris.
Sieda said that the Tlass and Hijab could play a different role in Syria’s future. “The people who will be a part of the transition government will have to be people who were engaged in favour of the revolution from its beginning,” Sieda told FRANCE 24. “That, it seems to me, is a legitimate demand on the part of the Syrian people. Nevertheless, we welcome anyone who has left Syria to take part in the country’s reconstruction.”
During his meeting with French President Francois Hollande on August 21, Sieda had announced that he was working on setting up the transition government.
Tlass, a former al-Assad confidant
Once a friend of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s, Tlass left Syria on July 7. The former general arrived in France and quickly tried to position himself as a leader of the Syrian opposition movement, but failed to condemn pro-Assad military forces. He then travelled to Saudi Arabia and Turkey, where he met with Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu. At the end of the month, Tlass, whose father Mustafa is the former Syrian defence minister, said he was working toward an end to the Syrian conflict. “I’m trying as best I can to help unify honest people in Syria and abroad to draw up a road map with the goal of an end to this crisis,” he told a Saudi daily newspaper.
Hijab’s defection is more recent. The former prime minister fled Syria and went to Jordan on August 6. Now in Amman, Hijab, the most prominent official to have fled the regime to date, denounced what he called a “genocide” currently occurring in Syria. In mid-August, Hijab spoke out once again, thanking Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey for supporting the opposition and calling on the international community to support the revolution more robustly.