Hassan Abdul Azim is a left-wing activist, a main figure in the Syrian opposition, and the general coordinator of the National Coordination Body for Democratic Change.
In favor of peaceful demonstrations, Abdul Azim fears that escalating regime violence and arming rebels could degenerate into a civil war or sectarian strife, a concern which has not faded away with the involvement of the Free Syrian Army in the revolution. A supporter of the military’s right to defect, he opposes civilians volunteering to fight and arming extremist organizations. At first, he supported dialogue with the regime. Yet, as of July 2011, he has refused any dialogue or power sharing in light of the unremitting killing.
While he called for uniting opposition efforts, he accused regional forces of inciting the Syrian National Council to refuse coordination with the National Coordination Body for Democratic Change, which did not receive an official invitation to the Istanbul opposition conference in March 2012. According to Abdul Azim, the League of Arab States’ recognition of the Syrian National Council as representative of the Syrian people would amount to “replacing one form of authoritarianism [with] another.”
In Abdul Azim’s opinion, Turkey and Qatar are taking advantage of the mistakes and aloofness of the Syrian regime. He believes Russia and China might be able to convince the regime to stop violence. The National Coordination Body also called on Iran to encourage the Syrian regime to stop the killing and release prisoners.
Abdul Azim saw the Arab initiative as the best peace initiative and supported the intervention of Arab peacekeeping forces. He also welcomed Kofi Annan’s mission and the Arab League’s support, saying it was in line with the Russian initiative.
Born in Halboun in the Al-Tall region in 1932, Abdul Azim studied law at Damascus University, where he was known for his activism within leftist movements. He joined the Socialist Unionist Movement before joining the Arab Socialist Union, which was formed by several Nasserist movements headed by Jamal Al-Atassi in July 1964. He headed the union after the death of Atassi in 2000 and signed the opposition’s Damascus Declaration.
He also took part in the National Democratic Rally founded in 1979, which included five leftist political parties: the Syrian Communist Party, the Revolutionary Workers Party, the Arab Socialist Movement, the Democratic Socialist Arab Baath Party, and the Democratic Arab Socialist Union (led by Abdul Azim). Abdul Azim became the spokesperson for the Rally in May 2000.