9/14 - The secretariat general of the National Salvation Front (NSF) held its second meeting in Brussels (9/13-15), where it decided to accept five new members representing various Kurdish movements. (Arabic. AKI, 9/14/06). According to information obtained by AKI, it was decided to expand the framework of the Front internally in Syria and externally on the road towards establishing a democratic state in Syria. Also, the Front reportedly decided on a media strategy and to launch a private TV station for the Syrian opposition. (See 9/19 below for more).
9/15 - Abdel Halim Khaddam spoke to UPI at the NSF conference in Brussels. (Arabic. Via "Free Syria," 9/15/06). The lengthy interview covered a range of issues. Khaddam said that "the Front's activity had so far been focused outside Syria, while maintaining contacts with the [Syrian] interior. However, in the upcoming stage it will move inside [Syria] in order to accelerate the process of change." Khaddam refused to give details on the methods that the NSF will use to communicate with the Syrian interior citing "security reasons." He only said that "the Front is moving to activate communication inside [Syria] and to mobilize public opinion in Syria." Khaddam denied being contacted by any Arab state in the aftermath of Bashar Assad's speech in which he attacked Arab states that criticized Hezbollah for provoking the recent war with Israel. He added that Assad "has crossed the point of no return and has made his choice, pulling himself out of the Arab circle and placing himself in the Iranian circle." As for Hezbollah's war, Khaddam said that Bashar Assad "follows his father's advice and wants to bleed Israel through Hezbollah."
9/18 - The National Organization for Human Rights in Syria (NOHR) reported that the Syrian authorities arrested Muhammad Darwish, an activist in the Committees for the Revival of Civil Society. (Arabic. Elaph, 9/18/06). The NOHR press release said that Darwish had been called in for questioning by Military Intelligence in Damascus and had not been let go since. NOHR added that there was no warrant for the arrest and thus the detention is illegal, and that Darwish should either be charged and referred to court or released. The Syrian Human Rights Committee (SHRC) later reported that Darwish was released a couple of days later. (Arabic. SHRC, 9/29/06).
9/19 - Nasr Hassan, member of the NSF's secretariat general, wrote that the Front adopted at the Brussels meeting a basic document (Arabic) detailing its views on civic rights for Syrian citizens. (Arabic. "Free Syria," 9/19/06). The document lays out the various freedoms and rights that the Front adopts, and expresses its commitment to basic human rights as laid out in universal declarations and international treaties.
9/19 - Veteran Kurdish activist and member of the NSF's secretariat general, Salah Badreddine, told UPI at the Brussels conference that after deciding to expand its secretariat general, the NSF has agreed to coordinate with the Damascus Declaration groups and to open channels of dialogue with tribal leaders inside Syria at a later stage. (Arabic. Via "Free Syria," 9/19/06). Badreddine said that he would be coordinating with Khaddam and Bayanouni on joint peaceful activism inside Syria between the Kurdish groups that he represents and groups that support the NSF. While denying that any Arab state supported the conference, Badreddine said that NSF delegates would soon be visiting Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Jordan, and maybe Iraq in the future, and would also hold meetings with Lebanese democratic forces, such as the Future Movement or the March 14 groups. On the international scene, Badreddine said that the US would head the list along with Britain and France. He added that all the US officials he's met, Republicans and Democrats, including State Department officials and members of Congress, agree that the Syrian regime is dictatorial and an exporter of terrorism and must be changed, as he put it.
9/19 - Elaph reported that the security services had arrested journalist Muhannad Abdel Rahman. (Arabic. 9/19/06). According to Elaph, Abdel Rahman wrote for the Kuwaiti al-Siyassah, which follows an anti-Assad editorial line. Lately, the report added, he began publishing interviews with Syrian dissidents in The Syrian Democratic Forum, the publication of The Syrian Democratic Assembly, a European-based group.
Reporters Without Borders (RSF) also issued a press release on Abdel Rahman's arrest. (IFEX, 9/22/06). The report noted that "Abdulrahman, 25, was picked up by security services in Damascus on his return from the village of Qamishly, in Syrian Kurdistan, where he had interviewed a Kurdish political leader. His family has had no news of him since his arrest." RSF added that Abdel Rahman wrote for Rezgar, an online secular Leftist news and opinion site. His work included numerous interviews and profiles of Syrian political figures.
9/19 - Elaph reported that detained dissident writer and professor Mahmoud Sarem (71) has been released. (Arabic. 9/19/06). Another report by the Syrian Human Rights Committee (SHRC) confirmed that Sarem was released on bail. (Arabic. SHRC, 9/29/06). Sarem was arrested in September 2005 and faced charges of weakening the morale of the nation and nationalist sentiment, and conducting acts aimed at armed rebellion. Sarem had described the ruling regime as fascist.