Building the Syrian State (BSS) is a political movement that brings together individuals from various ideological backgrounds. It calls for establishing a democratic civil state in Syria.
Louay Hussein: president and co-founder
Mouna Ghanem: secretary and co-founder
Rim Turkmani: public relations officer
Bahaa al-Din al-Rakkad: legal affairs officer
Hassan Kamel: administrative officer
Anas Joudeh: activity officer
Building the Syrian State was established on September 10, 2011, in Damascus. This followed a preparatory conference of over 190 opposition figures that was convened on June 27, 2011, by longtime activist and writer Louay Hussein, who later became a co-founder and the leader of the BSS.
BSS believes divisions within the opposition negatively affect the struggle against the regime of President Bashar al-Assad. Yet it has refused to join the larger, better-known opposition coalitions—the Syrian National Council and the National Coordination Body for Democratic Change—regarding them as ineffective and unable to serve the interests of the Syrian people adequately. It also diverges from the other opposition groupings in its insistence that resolution of the Syrian crisis must be achieved exclusively by Syrians, without any external involvement.
BSS is more a current than a conventional political party, but claims to have the structure of a party and to be active on the ground, despite a relatively small number of members. It advocates nonviolence, national unity, and negotiation for a peaceful transition to democracy, and rejects both arming the opposition and external military intervention. Although it does not seek the complete overthrow of the Assad regime, it rejects dialogue as long as government troops continue military operations against the opposition. BSS also focuses on developing a political and economic program for a potential post-Assad Syria.
Initially agreeing to participate in the Syria Salvation Conference that was held by some fifteen Syrian opposition parties and eight civil society movements in Damascus on September 23, 2012, BSS withdrew at the last minute. BSS explained that it had originally agreed to attend the conference in order “to enhance cooperation among the democratic forces to address the threats against the nation and citizens,” but it felt that this purpose had been subverted by other groups that sought instead to promote themselves to international actors.
BSS has representatives in Canada, France, Turkey, Britain, and the United Arab Emirates.
Policy Toward the Crisis
- Rejects any kind of external intervention, especially military
- Rejects arming the opposition
- Rejects the establishment of a government in exile
- Supports dialogue with the regime once it ceases armed attacks
- Supported the Annan peace plan
- Establishing democracy and good governance
- Ensuring social justice and equality
- Making neoliberal economic reforms
- Establishing an inclusive political process
- Ensuring freedom of speech and civil society organization
Foreign Policy Issues
- Is committed to nonintervention in other countries’ affairs
- Supports peace talks with Israel and seeks recovery of the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights
- Seeks a treaty demarcating Syria’s borders with Lebanon