Saturday, October 1, 2011

Syria’s Coordination Committees: A Brief History

Syria’s coordination committees began as local networks of anti-regime activists. They have now grown into a web of commissions, councils and unions that take different forms and names but are striving for unity.

By: Asi Abu Najm

"Interrogators at Syria’s General Intelligence building and other security agencies are interested in detainees’ knowledge of opposition coordinating committees. These committees are an important network of activists who have helped sustain the seven-month old uprising. Each committee takes a different form and name. There are the Local Coordination Committees of Syria (LCC), the Federation of the Coordination Committees of the Syrian Revolution (FCC), the Free Committees, and the National Action Committees (NAC), among others. Syrian authorities are expressly interested in these committees’ organizational and hierarchical structures, as well as their membership....

Building from Scratch

From the moment the uprising began in mid-March, it became clear that the protest movement needed to move beyond spontaneous action to a more organized campaign able to withstand the regime’s repression. Modern technology and Internet use offered new ways of peaceful struggle, especially in light of the government-imposed blackout.

The earliest manifestations of the ‘coordinating committees’ were neighborhood gatherings in locations across the country. Representatives of active anti-regime groups would meet in neighborhoods and residential areas to get to know each other better and build trust. These gatherings slowly developed internal structures through a long process of trial and error.....

Attempts to unify forces active on the ground are ongoing in Syria. This process is facilitated by modern communication technology, which has opened up new political spaces. The last of these attempts was the agreement between the LCC and the Federation announcing the founding of the Syrian National Council, whose aim, according to its founding statement, is to support the just cause of the Syrian people in all its components until the regime is toppled and a civil, pluralistic, and democratic state is established."

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