Syrian civil society group says, 'stop this war, don't start another one'

By staff writers
September 9, 2013

A Syrian civil society alliance has opposed US military strikes against the country, saying such action "does not serve the Syrian aspiration for freedom and justice".

The non-partsian group, Building the Syrian State (BSS), has supporters in Damascus and seeks to bring together proponents of change from different parts of the political spectrum.

It is resolutely opposed to the brutal regime of President Assad, and supports democratisation and civil empowerment.

BSS advocates include Dr Rim Turkmani, a Syrian-born astrophysicist at Imperial College London, science historian and Dorothy Hodgkin Research Fellow of the Royal Society.

Dr Turkmani is from Homs and has a made a number of media appearances as a commentator on Syrian affairs in recent months.

A member of the political office of Building the Syrian State, she has been using social media to contact US Congress representatives, declaring: "Help us end the current war in Syria, not start a new one. Peace is our common interest."

The full Building the Syrian State statement, issued on 5 September 2013, says: "We condemn utterly the use of chemical weapons in Syria whether by the regime or by any other party, just as we condemn all forms of violence in the Syrian political conflict and we continue to work hardly on ending the violence and the armed conflict.

"At the same time we oppose any foreign military intervention in Syria under any pretext, because it does not serve the Syrian aspiration for freedom and justice. Instead it will exacerbate the crisis, and push the parties of the armed conflict to escalate their armed actions, and push them to use the worst of weapons

"Through its threat of a military strike against the Syrian forces, the United States is aggravating the conflict in Syria instead of resolving it. This risks the security of the whole region and directly contributes to fueling the conflict in Syria, including the civil fight.

"At the same time, the Syrian regime is pushing the country to devastation by provoking, though its behavior, an external aggression that will destroy what is left of the Syrian society. The regime is doing this through its obstinate rejection of any genuine political solution to the Syrian crisis, and by acting like a big militia in dealing with the political conflict in the country. It has limited its action to the dealing with the armed conflict and treating all the armed groups as terrorist organisations. It has also continued to suppress and arrest nonviolent activists.

"We dispute the claimed US motives for this strike, and we refuse its role as the world’s policeman, judge and jury. We do not see it as a neutral party to the armed conflict in Syria. Just like Russia, the US is involved to the fullest extent in this conflict. And as a party to the conflict we demand it makes serious and responsible efforts to end the Syrian crisis.

"The US should focus on the convening of the Geneva II conference so that we can move towards delegitimising the armed conflict, and transforming it to a peaceful political conflict. This must include the the formation of a coalition government made up of figures from the all Syrian political forces including the government, opposition and other parties.

"We also call on the Syrian authorities to seek to end this extreme tension with Western countries, in order to undermine the chance of an attack on the country. The country cannot afford any war or aggression; Syria cannot afford to be destroyed by arrogance.

"The authorities should show immediately clear signs of a serious willingness to implement the resolutions that will be issued by the Geneva II Conference, by stop[ping] arresting peaceful activists, releasing the detainees and reducing the level of the weapons used in its fighting with the armed groups. It should to try to accomplish a regional cease-fire with the Free Syrian Army brigades that are ready to accept it, and not demanding that they surrender instead."

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