Last week, Abdel Halim Khaddam and Ali Sadreddine al-Bayanouni gave back to back interviews on the National Salvation Front and the questions and criticisms that this new alliance has drawn from others in the Syrian opposition groups. (See Khaddam's interview here).
Bayanouni spoke with a reporter from aljazeera.net (Arabic. Aljazeera.net, 3/29/06) while attending a conference in Bahrain. Bayanouni stressed that building alliances is nothing new for the Brotherhood, and that it was the Brotherhood's strategic choice.
As for Khaddam, Bayanouni said, "when he declared a position opposing the regime and criticizing its policies, and that he would join the ranks of the people and coordinate with the opposition, we welcomed him and we welcome anyone from within the regime who would like to join the opposition and stand on the side of the people." He added, "in the  National Call for Salvation, we called on the president Bashar Asad, as well as on the government, ministers, the People's Council, the Army, and the security services to join the ranks of the people. Now that Mr. Khaddam has answered this call, how can we reject him?"
Asked about Khaddam's past, Bayanouni replied, "we are in no position to give anyone a certificate of innocence or forgiveness. We do not have that right. The judiciary will decide on the accusations that may be brought against Mr. Khaddam or others in the future." As for Khaddam's motives and sincerity, Bayanouni said that he did not know anyone's motives and that it was of no concern to him as long as they were sincere about opposing the regime, and no one doubts that about Khaddam now.
As for the ability of the alliance (the National Salvation Front) to bring about change in Syria, Bayanouni acknowledged that it was no easy task, but expressed his belief that the regime has no popular base. In his view, the reason for the regime's survival is the international cover it still enjoys. He went on, "if it is proven that it had a relation, one way or the other, to the assassination of Hariri, then this cover may be lifted," adding, "we believe that we could benefit from a change in the international mood -- over which we have no bearing -- brought about by the regime's policies."
Bayanouni insisted that the people in Syria are overwhelmingly opposed to the regime, but will not take acation until they can be certain that a movement for change would not be met with massive repression and brutality.
He also asserted that the NSF does have a branch inside Syria, and that its presence abroad is necessitated by the regime's policy of making open membership in the Muslim Brotherhood a capital crime. "We are an internal, nationalist, Syrian opposition from the heart of the Syrian people and we have no relation to any foreign agenda." He referred to "movements and meetings inside Syria, but they are all secret, so we cannot publicize work inside Syria as we can abroad, where our movement has a measure of freedom."
Although he said that it was not in his hands to reject the "intersection of of interests," Bayanouni was adamant that he rejects foreign interference, including financial aid, and said that the regime was using smear tactics by accusing the opposition of treason and foreign agency. "We have no ties to any foreign side. Our networks are Syrian only. We cooperate with them to bring about change in our country."
Finally, when asked about the difference between the Damascus Declaration and the National Salvation Front, Bayanouni responded, "I believe the NSF is parallel and complementary to the work of the DD and not in contradiction with it. We believe that the DD has included most of the political factions on the scene, and this does not preculde other factions from joining in the future, and we welcome them whether they join the DD or the NSF."