PARIS - A former member of the Syrian National Council, who says she was driven out of the leading opposition group after expressing fear about Islamist domination, said on Thursday President Bashar Assad would fall only when ruling minority Alawites jumped ship.
Randa Kassis, a Paris-based secular opposition figure, said the SNC was ignoring the rise in Salafist and al Qaeda fighters in the country and had little contact with the Alawites, let alone a strategy to convince them to swap sides.
"Without the defection of the Alawites, we won't be able to do anything and we will go straight into civil war," Kassis told Reuters. What began last year as a mostly peaceful protest movement against Assad's rule is now an armed insurrection led by rebels from the majority Sunni Muslim community.
Kassis, a writer and anthropologist, said she would unveil a new Syrian opposition bloc - The Movement for a Pluralist Society - in September to challenge the faction-ridden SNC.
It would, she said, be comprised of religious and ethnic minorities, including Druse, Christians and Kurds, as well as secular and pluralist members.