Last updated: 23 February, 2012

Syrian opposition group warns on Tunis conference

An international conference on Syria this week will do little to help resolve the crisis and the lack of progress is allowing the country to collapse into civil war, an opposition figurehead warned.

“We haven’t seen anybody putting forward a feasible solution to the crisis, and this is very serious for Syria,” prominent writer Louai Hussein, president of the Building the Syrian State (BSS) movement, told reporters in London on Wednesday.

“If the situation is left like this, this is certainly going to lead to a civil war — a stage where we will all lose control of what happens,” Hussein said ahead of Friday’s meeting in Tunisia.

BSS representatives were in London for a meeting with Middle East minister Alistair Burt, who pledged Britain’s support for peaceful efforts to win freedom in Syria, and urged the BSS to work with other opposition groups.

Tunisia is hosting a “Friends of Syria” conference to try to bring together Arab, European and US diplomats in a bid to bring an end to the bloody repression of protests by President Bashar al-Assad.

Hussein, one of the first political figures arrested in the current uprising, said the conference was not preparing for a solution to the crisis.

“It’s preparing for more pressure on the regime. At best, it can offer humanitarian aid to people outside the country,” he said.

Meanwhile “the violence is escalating very quickly, especially in areas like Homs. On the political track, it’s stuck, there is no progress at all.”

Hussein called for internationally-supervised negotiations on establishing a power-sharing transitional government, which he acknowledged would have to include the existing administration.

He said there were no signs that Assad’s regime — which he branded “a liar and a killer” — is either near collapse or ready to enter a political process, while opposition groups were still divided.

“The Syrian opposition is weak and unable to lead in this historic moment,” the former political prisoner said.

The BSS, which describes itself as liberal and secular, is opposed to foreign military intervention, fearing some Syrians would fight with international troops and others against them.