The National Bloc is a faction of the Syrian National Council comprised of nonpartisan dissidents from all backgrounds, although Sunni conservatives predominate. It calls for a pluralistic, independent, free and civil state: a sovereign Syria able to determine its future through the democratic participation of its citizens.
Ahmad Ramadan: Muslim Brotherhood/Islamist, Sunni Arab
Mutie el Butein: Higher Council for the Syrian Revolution Tansiqiya (HCRS), Sunni Arab
Tawfik Dunia: Syrian National Democratic Bloc (SNDB), Alawite Arab
The National Bloc takes its name from a coalition of political parties established in 1928 by Ibrahim Hananu, whose aim was to fight for Syrian independence under the French Mandate. The coalition had few social and economic policies beyond the establishment of a free Syria. The bloc dissolved in 1947 and split into two parties, the National Party and the Peoples’ Party.
The current incarnation of the bloc was formed in mid-September 2011 in the lead-up to the official establishment of the Syrian National Council by the Istanbul Group. Its members are not uniform in their alliances but one internal bloc under Ahmad Ramadan is aligned with a faction of the Aleppo-based Muslim Brotherhood’s National Action Group for Syria. Another is aligned with the Syrian National Current for Change, a non–Muslim Brotherhood Islamist group known as the “Group of 74,” which is mostly made up of former members of the Muslim Brotherhood, many of them businessmen.
At a set of meetings in Rome in mid-June, their disagreements led to the division of the National Bloc into two wings. One, the Union of Democratic Coordination, is led by Ahmad Ramadan, while the other, which did not declare an official name, is headed by Radwan Ziadeh. The Syrian National Council (SNC) allocated each of the factions three seats in the General Secretariat and one on the Executive Committee, thereby doubling the former representation of the National Bloc within the council and raising concern in some quarters of increasing Islamist control of the SNC.
Separately, secular member Basma Qodmani left the National Bloc in June after disagreements over the leadership of the SNC and perceived disparities in the electoral control of its constituent factions, however as of June 2012 she remains a member of the council’s Executive Committee. At the same set of June meetings, it was decided that there was to be a permanent seat reserved for women on the Executive Committee, the occupant of which will be elected on a rolling basis every three months.
Policy Toward the Crisis
- Calls for external military intervention
- Calls for arming the opposition
- Rejects dialogue with the regime
- Supports the Annan peace plan
- The establishment of a free and sovereign state
- Guarantee of minority rights
- Rule of law
- Public freedoms for all citizens under a just constitution
Foreign Policy Issues
- Basma Qodmani lost favor after stating her wish for peace between Syria and Israel in an interview with French media