As-Safir (a Lebanese newspaper) has published the transcript of the Syrian National Council’s (SNC) meeting with the Hillary Clinton. The transcript displays US concerns with the condition of ‘minorities’ in a post-Bashar al-Assad Syria, the need for better unity within the opposition’s ranks and for it to carry out its policies in coordination with other actors and specifically the Arab League.
In the meeting, Burhan Ghalioun’s registers his request that the US administration back the SNC and open channels for communication to better coordinate with the US regime. The mindset and general direction of the SNC is made apparent when Basma Qudmani, a SNC leader, states to Hillary Clinton her high opinion of US imperialism:
We do not expect a lot from the Security Council as far as we expect from the United States, the protector of freedom and rights in the world.
In terms of policy vision, the SNC aims to pursue a strategic shift for Syria, re-structuring aspects of its foreign policies. In an interview with the Wall Street Journal, Burhan Ghalioun states Syria will break its strategic ties with Iran and Hezbollah and seek better relations with other Arabic states (more likely the satellite of US backed potentates), specifically noting Syria will buttress the regional role of Arabic and Gulf states. Hezbollah, he opines, will not be the same after the fall of Bashar al-Assad, cutting all military cooperation with the group. The Golan Heights are acknowledged as part of Syria but its return will be through a brokered ‘peace’ treaty, as has been the policy of Bashar al-Assad. The original transcript registers a question on Syria’s relations with both Hezbollah and Hamas but while answering on Hezbollah, as noted above, avoids any clear answer on Hamas. Instead Burhan Ghalioun responds, tellingly, that Syria’s relationship with Hamas will be through the PLO :
Hamas has shifted to a new policy and they are now working with the PLO to unite the ranks of the Palestinians. It’s no longer the Hamas supported by the Syrian regime. Our relationship with Hamas will be through our relationship with the PLO politically and the Palestinian civil society.
In another interview with As-Sharq al-Awsat, Burhan Ghalioun re-iterates his original statements by affirming all strategic and military ties with Iran will be cut, though economic trade still remains plausible . Either way, this qualification does not negate that despite SNC declaring itself as only a transitionary body guiding Syria towards a pluralistic democracy, is somehow pontificating beyond its own scope and role – little speculation is required for the reasons behind this and the intended audience of these messages.