The new Revolutionary Command Council — the latest effort to unify the Syrian opposition

Aron Lund writes about the launch of the Watasimo — “hold fast” — initiative that has led to the formation of “a joint leadership called the Revolutionary Command Council (RCC, majlis qiyadat al-thawra), which would replace the collapsed institutions of the so-called Free Syrian Army (FSA)”:

On November 27–29, the RCC finally held its founding congress in the Turkish town of Gaziantep. It was attended by several dozen rebel groups, 72 all in all according to the organizers. Also present were a number of well-known exile politicians and Islamist figures, including the pro-Qatari businessman Mustafa Sabbagh, the Salafi televangelist Adnan al-Arour, and members of the National Coalition for the Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces, the main body of Syria’s perpetually-splintering exile opposition.

A politico-military structure was set up and a leadership elected that represented a wide variety of rebel factions and regions. It is perhaps the most-broadly-based such rebel unification attempt yet although it excludes the ultra-radical Islamic State, the al-Qaeda-aligned Nusra Front, and the independent jihadis of Ansar al-Din, as well as the Kurdish Popular Protection Units (YPG) — all of which are among Syria’s most powerful armed factions.

The RCC also adopted a charter describing its political goals. Most of the charter is a spiceless mixture of standard rebel fare such as “overthrowing the criminal Syrian regime,” safeguarding Syria’s territorial unity against unspecified “partition projects,” “preserving the Islamic identity of Syria’s society,” and the requisite little bit about fighting terrorism. It provides little detail, skirts the big issues about what sort of political system should be created, and is clearly written to be acceptable to the widest possible spectrum of the opposition and its foreign backers.

However, the charter also signaled that the RCC has grand ambitions by announcing that it will create its own “independent judiciary” and “administer the liberated territories in a way that serves the interests of the citizenry.” It plans to rule Syria in “the interim period until the people’s representatives can accede to power in the state.” [Continue reading…]

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