Temporary Procedures for Transitional Period in Syria

According to the common political vision for the transitional period agreed upon by the Syrian opposition conference convened under the patronage of Arab League in Cairo on 3/7/2012, the Syrian opposition decided that the “political solution in Syria starts with the downfall of Bashar Al-Assad and the regime pillars, and accountability for those who killed Syrians.” However, the rejection by Assad to implement any political solution and his continuous aggressive policy in killing Syrians and destroying the infrastructure and Syrian state entities, has pushed Syrians to believe that Syria’s liberation will not happen except by the noble sacrifices provided by Free Syrian Army and military brigades fighting alongside revolutionaries and their peaceful struggle which will always be the image of the Syrian revolution and its guide.

This is why the political and strategic strategy adopted by Syrian opposition has concentrated on supporting Free Syrian Army (FSA) as the only way to free Syrian from Assad regime. The huge progress achieved by FSA brigades in Aleppo shows progress in this direction. Day after day, the Syrians are becoming more convinced that overthrowing the Assad regime is a necessity no matter the human and material costs, as the cost of keeping this regime is way higher than the cost paid by Syrians every day to get rid of it.

As the Syrian revolution has transformed from a peaceful revolution to an armed one, the cost paid by Syrians will definitely be higher, whether in human losses or losses in public infrastructure and private property. This is where the responsibility of any government that comes after Assad’s ouster begins. This government should concentrate on putting plans for development, restoring security and stability, and launching a reconciliation and transitional justice process. This will not be achieved without a clear vision of the transitional period, in order to put Syria on the democratic path. This is where all Syrians, with no exception, have to play their role in building the new vision of the transitional period and creating closer views and reducing disputes and side effects of the transitional period.

Consequently, the Syrian opposition has to agree on creating an exile government, which is the agreed upon government by different Syrian opposition parties (those who participated in Cairo Conference convened under the patronage of Arab League on 3/7/2012). This government should be formed to work until the fall of the Assad regime and should be able to go back to Damascus and manage the country from there. When we say “temporary transitional period”, we mean the period following the fall of the Assad regime and until parliamentary and presidential elections occur.

Exile Government

An exile government is the temporary government formed by opposition and looks to keep pace of the legitimacy of the government inside home country and even outperform it. Since the Assad regime seized authority by force and lost its legitimacy, the exile government should take on overthrowing Assad regime legacy which ruled Syria since 1971 until now. The legitimate exile government should assure that the Assad and Baath Arab Socialist Party, especially its leadership committees at the country level and central committee, bear the responsibility for the way Syria has been ruled from 1963 to 2012. Especially, the programmatic destruction of our values, and deliberate undermining of human rights and freedoms, and the moral and economic collapse accompanied by legal crimes and terrorism against those who have differing viewpoints, replacing the free market economy with centralized one, and the misuse of education and science and culture to achieve ideological and political goals. The Baath party and its leadership has:

– Denied citizens any possibility of expressing their views of the political administration and forced them to hide their opinions about the situation of the state and society. They also forced them to plausibly agree to lies by tracjking and threatening them and their family members and those who are close to them.

– Systematically and continuously undermined human rights and worked in a systematic way to oppress Syrian citizens’ religious, social, and political groups.

– Undermined the basic principles of the legal democratic state and international treaties, and even internal laws, putting the will and benefits of the ruling family and Baath party and its representatives over the law.

– Use all authority means to spy on citizens and worked especially on:

1- Executing, killing, imprisoning, using brutal torture against them, including body and psychological torture, exposing them to inhuman suffering during interrogation or during their prison time.

    2- Denying them their properties and undermining their ownership rights.

    3- Making it hard for them to perform their jobs and denying them promotions in their professional or intellectual specialization.

    4- Imposing travel bans on them denying them the right to travel outside or return to their country.

The responsibility of these committed crimes falls on those who defended Baath party regime positions whether they were directly responsible for the crimes or as organizers and planners in the political sector.

The Syrian citizens’ struggle against this regime, on the individual and group level, according to political, religious, or moral basis, expressed through the military operations or other activities such as private and public expression over Syrian land and outside it, even if it happened in coalition with Arab or foreign powers, is considered legitimate and fair struggle and justified from a moral standpoint and deserves respect.

That is why the exile government formed by the opposition present in the Cairo Conference is the legitimate government as long as it commits to the goals and principles of the Syrian revolution in overthrowing the Assad regime and building the civil democratic and plural state for all Syrians.

The formation of the exile government imposed by the fact that huge parts of Syria have been freed from Assad regime, most importantly the border checkpoints that have strategic importance because of their political significance related to sovereignty, necessitate the building of a centralized authority capable of managing the transitional period according to outcomes of Cairo Opposition Conference in 2-3 July 2012 in the national convention document and the transitional period features document.

The exile government will work on providing headquarters to be able to coordinate efforts and achieve its objectives; the temporary headquarters could be on the free Syrian land.

The exile government works on adopting a constitutional convention that presents the hierarchy of the government, its duties, and objectives. It forms completely new governmental documents that draw its legitimacy from the Syrian people first and international community which will consider it the legitimate representative of the Syrian people.

The Syrian exile government consists of an executive branch lead by a prime minister. A cabinet will be formed which consists of ministers with different and determined responsibilities related to different ruling issues. There will be a parliamentary and judiciary bodies also.

The exile government concentrates its activities towards taking legitimacy of the Assad authority, and works on gaining recognition, through diplomatic activities and communication with Syrian people inside Syria and outside and international organizations and other countries especially the Friends of the Syrian people group. It will also work on executing the administrative jobs related to Syrian people like issuing passports, and providing them certain services, and works on building a national army with FSA as its core to assure Syria’s stability and unity of its land after the overthrowing of Assad regime.

The exile government announces that it is the legitimate authority in Syria. Its prime minister will not taking any governmental position in the coming governments for a period of two years. After the fall of the Assad regime, the exile government will resign and be replaced with a larger transitional government that will manage the country until democratic elections are held according to Cairo Conference documents:

Upon the fall of Bashar Al-Assad and his regime, the government will resign and the current parliament will be dissolved and a transitional government will be formed, in accordance with revolutionary and political entities of the opposition and current status national authority in addition to those who don’t have Syrian blood on their hands or stolen public capital, on principles that comply with Cairo Conference documents and decisions, until the transitional government is formed.

A wide national conference in Damascus will be called that will include all political parties and entities of the society without any exceptions, in order to commit to the creation of a temporary legislative body (Defense General Committee to defend revolution objectives and democratic transition) and a transitional government the consists of personalities known for their skills and honesty.

The temporary legislative body will work on issuing constitutional declarations based on the national convention document stated in Cairo Conference, which includes the presidency status during the transitional period, and higher judiciary committee, and national security committee, and the higher commission for accountability and reconciliation, and general commission for social compensation and re-building. The legislative body monitors the executive authority, and issues temporary laws necessary to organize public life during the transitional period. It also eliminates discriminatory laws and decrees against Kurdish, Turkmen, and Assyrian ethnicities, and any other part of the Syrian people. It also issues an elections law for founding a council and a draft for permanent constitution for the country based on the national convention principles.

The transitional government will take on administering country affairs under monitoring by the legislative body resulting after the national conference. It deals with priorities of eliminating social and architectural effects of the past stage and the rebuilding of the national economy.

During a period not more than a year following their formation, the temporary legislative body and the transitional government will work on implementing elections of founding parliament that agrees on the constitution and present it to a referendum during a period of six months at most.

Upon the election of the founding parliament, the temporary legislative body will be dissolved and a new government formed based on the majority that resulted from the elections.

All Syrian opposition entities that met in Cairo July-2012, will meet to agree on forming exile government that has the features mentioned below:

Organizational Structure of Exile Government

The exile government plans on staying outside Syria only temporarily as its main objective is taking legitimacy from Assad regime and then going back to Damascus. This is why the most important issue for the Syrian exile government is to gain legitimacy from the International Community.

Historically, there have been different levels of exile governments gaining international recognition and taking away legitimacy from the current government. For example, the Burma national union government (NCGUB) received some support, but it couldn’t reach to be Burma’s Legitimate Government. On the other side, the Haitian exile government was able to end military regime rule in Haiti, where military coup on 1991 lead to the fall of fall of Jean Bertrand Aristide, the first democratically elected Haitian president who afterwards formed an exile government lasted for three years. In the beginning, the exile government stayed in Venezuela, and then moved to the United States of America. Aristide used exile government in negotiations with the Haitian military government, and pressured the international community to remove the military regime from power, and in the end, the United Nations gave permission for military intervention to force the military regime to resign, and Aristide returned to Haiti as the constitutionally elected president in October, 1994.

The exile government completely relies on the host country to allow it to perform duties no matter where it is formed. That’s why it is very important for the Syrian exile government to find a country that allows it to use their land to build temporary premises from the beginning of the exile period. Such a country should be either Turkey or Egypt, even though the period will be short, and this permission can be given explicitly or implicitly.

Additionally, the exile government premises allows the government to better perform its activities, however, exile government can change its location as a response to changes in circumstances and the situation on the ground. For example, the Algerian exile government started its work in Cairo and then moved to Tunisia as part of its strategy. The same happened with the Polish exile government which started its work on French land then moved to United Kingdom after Germany and Russian Union invasion of Poland during the second World War.

Governmental Documents

During the same time of its declaration of formation, or during a later stage, the exile government adopts governmental documents that clarify its organizational structure, its duties and objective in exile, in addition to clarifying some guideline principles, which may take the form of constitution or document, or official declaration. This governmental document is most concerned with the inner structure forming the exile government.

The lack of clear articles of the duties of the exile government makes it hard for the temporary government to stay united and effective. This may result in a lack of clarity of responsibilities inside the government because of some party bias inside the government.

Upon putting the governmental document together, the exiled government can announce a constitutional convention. This could be the Syria 1952 constitution, or agree or the new constitution enclosed to this document.

Governments that are completely formed in exile tend to adopt completely new constitution or a convention as its official government document. During the process of drafting new governmental documents, some exile governments take elements from international legal documents. For example, some of the content and structure of Tibet new constitution was derived from international law which includes an explicit reference to international human rights declaration. This method may help exile governments succeed in gaining international legitimacy.

The adoption procedures of temporary constitution or convention adoption include acceptance from current council or ministry council or temporary legislative commission if any exist. After finishing constitution drafting, exile governments usually tend to adopt closed voting to take decision to adopt the convention instead of performing a public referendum due to logistical difficulties. Despite that, the exile government benefits from assuring transparency and minority representation during the process because not doing that causes a lot of damage to the legitimacy of the convention and the government.

Organizational Structure

Exile governments differ in their organizational structure and this depends on the government needs and to what extent it is capable of developing into a much wider organization. In most cases, governments have an executive branch, legislative branch, and sometimes a judiciary affairs branch is added to them.

Executive Authority

The exile government consists of a prime minister and ministers and members of the government appointed as the executive chief officer and other important positions.

Cabinet members of the exile government take on different responsibility but determined affairs like foreign affairs, defense, finance, justice, exiled and refugees, education, rebuilding, and political development.

This means the government will consist of eight different ministries:

  1. Foreign Affairs
  2. Defense
  3. Treasure
  4. Justice and Human Rights
  5. Exiled and Refugees
  6. Education and Learning
  7. Rebuilding
  8. Political Development


Duties and Activities

The exile government will try, following its formation, to perform activities that undermine the stability of the current regime, and gain international recognition as the legitimate governmental authority. The exile governments can also manage affairs of the population sector that falls under its authority and provide them with services especially for refugees as the case of Syrian refugee camps in Turkey, Iraq, Jordan, and Lebanon.

  • Ministry of Foreign Affairs

The exile government will work on developing its relations with regional countries and organizations to increase its legitimacy and gain support. This process includes trying to gain international recognition, political and financial support for the Syrian people inside Syria. Additionally, the exile government should maintain its relationship with Syrians scattered all over the world in an effort to keep them informed of the latest developments, and urge them to provide support and bringing attention to their case.

For example, the Algerian exile government was able to develop its relationships with most of the Arab countries and a number of other countries to an extent that benefited their cause where those countries supported the Algerian armed resistance.

The Syrian exile government should also interact with other governments to gain support for its struggle to seize authority from the Assad regime. It should also reinforce external communication efforts to reach the Syrian diaspora. The communication is not only limited to communication with intellectuals, writers, and human rights activists throughout the world, it actually goes beyond that to create positive effect on international public awareness of the Syrian cause.

The exile government, through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, also tries to gain support from international organizations like United Nations and World Bank. For exile governments, the communications with international organizations is important to gain military support and intervention through a no-fly-zone or creation of safe areas on Syrian-Turkish borders. For example, the prime minister has to take advantage of the UN General Assembly and Arab League to take off Assad regime legitimacy. The exile government should also gain support from World Bank and International Monetary Fund. Despite the fact that unrecognized exile governments don’t qualify from World Bank support, there are some cases where the World Bank financed such governments indirectly through providing aid for non-governmental organizations which help exile governments in an international program.

  • Defense Ministry

The Defense ministry’s main task essentially is to gain financial and military support for FSA, and work with fighting brigades and military councils to unite to form a central leadership capable of strategically planning military operations, and for putting a program for disarming after the fall of Assad regime, and forming a core patriot national army with its main creed defending Syrian land and borders and protecting Syrian people from any external threat.

For example, the Polish exile government gave permission to form secret military resistance movement named (Polish Home Army) in 1939. The movement continuously resisted German colony for Poland, and this included all sorts of resistance on a grand scale, and killing colony groups. This movement prepared for national revolution in the case colonial forces collapsed. It was lead on the ground directly by army generals, whereas the higher leadership of the army was the Polish exile government. At the same time, Polish exile government coordinated with Polish armed forces in the north which consisted of Polish soldiers and navy generals who served with Coalition Forces in the fight outside Poland.

On the other side, an exile government could be formed from active military resistance movement, where it plays a role in leading forces and this is what actually happened in Algeria where the National Liberation Front (FLN) fought against the French for independence for many years before the exile government was formed. After a short period, the government (whose role was to gain diplomatic recognition and international support) separated from the military faction of the resistance movement.

The military front fight against French forces towards independence boosted success because it was used to gain overwhelming political support. However, the exile government’s lack of coordination with the military weakened their capability of negotiations with the French. This resulted in many challenges for the authority owned by government after short period of Algeria achievement of independence. That’s why the ability of exile government to coordinate with active resistance forces in home country plays vital role in the success of exile government in achieving its ultimate goal.

  • Treasure Ministry

Works in full coordination with Ministry of Foreign Affairs to gain necessary financing from friend governments and maybe though World Bank through its different programs to sustain the government work and assure necessary finance of Defense Ministry.

  • Ministry of Justice and Human Rights

Its main responsibility is following and tracking Syrian regime authorities who have committed war crimes or crimes against humanity and make sure they are brought to justice and accountability, and look for methods to do so. This work should be done in coordination with UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, or the International Criminal Court, or international rights organizations. The ministry also works on creating deep-rooted principles for justice by adopting judicial reform programs that could be applied upon the fall of Assad regime.

  • Ministry of Exiled and Refugees

Its main job is to follow-up on Syrian refugees’ issues in hosting countries and at the same time follow-up on Syrian immigrants’ issues, those who were forced by Assad forces to leave their homes. It is also exile government’s right to perform some of its administrative duties for the Syrians in exile. The performance of administrative duties is considered an important issue especially for governments formed in exile, and that’s because the effective services offering showed the exile government’s capability of taking power once current Assad government has been removed. For example, the Syrian exile government will invest in schools, cultural centers, and religious worship places in liberated areas. The exile government also provides health care programs and provides other services for refugees.

For example, the Polish exile government provided a number of services for the Polish diaspora during World War II. First, they offered mail service in exile, and also it coordinated with and actively supported Polish resistance organizations which provided educational services after Polish schools were shut down. Additionally, it disseminated resistance information through a secret press movement. After the war, the Polish exile government continued convening and meeting once every two weeks and continued providing civil services.

  • Ministry of Education and Learning

Focuses on educational and learning programs for Syria in the future; and swiftly work on bringing back schools and universities to work after the massive destruction that happened to them.

  • Ministry of Re-Building

Focuses on establishing re-building programs and providing necessary financing for these projects.

  • Ministry of Political Development

Puts plans for activating and organizing political life through special programs to support establishment of democratic parties as a guarantee for assuring political stability.

Authority Validity Period

Due to the fact that the exile government’s role usually is to achieve second independence, it’s period ends the minute the Assad regime falls, as its main responsibility is leading Syrian people towards freedom and the overthrowing of Assad regime. The exile government should clearly state its complete readiness to relinquish authority when Assad regime gives up authority and work on creating a new inclusive permanent transitional government with full authority to supervise the transitional period until elections are performed.

After the fall of the Assad regime, the exile government turns into a temporary transitional government which starts the transitional period. Elections will be held under international supervision to form the new government and this may take six months after the beginning of temporary period which ends directly after the newly elected government takes control.

Temporary Government

The Temporary Government succeeds the exile government and must be extended to include ministers from all political blocks through agreement.

The cabinet consists of prime minister, deputy prime minister, and 28 ministers. The cabinet provides its report to the president and his deputy.

The Temporary Government will rule Syria on the national level until the presidential and prime minister elections are held. They will start performing their duties after six months after the formation of the Temporary Government..

During temporary period, the prime minister is appointed by the government.

All decisions by temporary government require approval of president and his deputy. This includes but is not limited to: decisions related to issues followed by military activities, military appointments, promotions, service ending procedures, intelligence activities, dealing with foreign affairs and voting in international congregations, financial and economic activities including central bank activities, and other decisions.

There will be 28 ministers in addition to prime minister and his deputy who lead the ministry which consists of 25 minister positions and two additional positions created, and central bank ruler.

The temporary government is formed according to a number of conditions:

  • Generally, all employees who work in certain ministries will stay in their positions.
  • A Reconstruction ministry will be formed to provide immediate help for regions most affected by war and to rebuild destroyed regions.
  • Release all political prisoners under supervision of the Ministry of Justice.

The temporary government consists of the following ministry positions: Defense, Treasure, Local Administration, Information, Culture, Justice, Rebuilding, Electricity, Education, Transportation, Health, Interior, Infrastructure, Foreign Affairs, Exiled and Refugees, Economy and Trade, Religious Awqaf, Oil and Metal, Irrigation, Higher Education, Tourism, Technology and Communications, Social and Labor Affairs, Industry, Environment, in addition to Central Bank Ruler.

Judicial Authority

  • There must be no new appointments of judges and no judge should be removed during transitional period, except Higher Judicial Council which should be resolved.
  • Current Higher Constitutional Court will stay as is with addition of representatives.
  • Higher Constitutional Court will maintain all its authorities, responsibilities determined in 2012 constitution, except decisions related to temporary government.
  • As for civilian issues, decisions will be made by having civil court with the existence of “Distinguishing Court” as higher appeal court.

Army and Security Apparatus

The army falls under authority of Defense Ministry as a civil organization. Defense Ministry has no right in replacing any Army General during temporary period without approval from president and his deputy.

Defense Ministry will work on putting a plan to deal with non-governmental armed groups, which includes – according to needs – releasing them or remerging them into the current security apparatus.

Financial and Banking Affairs

The Finance Minister will create a financial surveillance commission, which will have the authority of reviewing and rejecting all state financial transactions and spending. The commission consists of representatives appointed by Finance Minister and Finance Ministry deputy.

The Rebuilding Ministry will work with central bank and Finance Ministry to put a plan for immediate and urgent start of rebuilding process and aid operations. This plan should be implemented by the Rebuilding Ministry.

Elections and Local Administration

The government will form an independent Higher Commission of Elections, which will be responsible for putting rules for any elections held during temporary period. The commission should make sure the elections are held on a free and fair basis. It will be managed by the following rules:

  1. The Temporary Government has the authority of choosing commission members and determining its procedures. This should be done no more than ten days after temporary transitional government is formed.
  2. The Temporary Government then decides whether the Higher Commission for Elections will be resolved at the end of temporary period and replaced with new commission or it will continue its work in supervising election procedures during transitional period.
  3. Political parties legally established during temporary period have the right to continue after temporary period ends.
  4. A reasonable time will be given to the Higher Commission of Elections or any organization that succeeds it to decide about newly legally established during temporary period, to make sure it complies with any requirements put after the end of temporary period.
  5. Elections for the positions of President, Deputy President, and Prime Minister (elected by parliament) will be held in less than six months period after the formation of temporary government. Parliament elections should be held in less than six months from the formation of temporary government.
  6. The Higher Commission of Elections should supervise district elections for 14 districts making sure these elections are held as soon as possible and in a free and fair manner.
  7. District and regional elections could start directly upon approval of Independent Higher Commission of Elections to start elections in districts and suburbs, and the last date for holding elections is after the end of the third month since the temporary government has been formed.
  8. Every district governor upon his/her election is entitled to determine rules and procedures for governing in his district and its suburbs, until a new constitution is put in place. Those rules and procedures should be approved by Interior Minister and his/her deputy.