US backs new Syrian opposition ahead of conference
Wednesday 12 December 2012
The fourth conference for the “Friends of the Syrian People” was set to open today after the US said the new Syrian opposition coalition is the “sole legitimate representative” of the Syrian people.
The US move, announced by President Barack Obama late last night, follows that of the UK and France and what that will mean for the Syrian
opposition should be indicated by the results of the conference, which includes more than a hundred delegates from Europe and the Gulf countries in the Moroccan city of Marrakech.
The Syrian National Coalition, formed in November during a conference in Doha, Qatar, has been calling for increased international support, including military material for opposition forces battling the regime of Bashar Assad in Syria for nearly two years.
The US is not, however, expected to approve military aid, in part over fears of al-Qa'ida linked rebel units operating in the country.
Obama's announcement follows his administration's blacklisting of a militant Syrian rebel group with links to al-Qa'ida. That step is aimed at blunting the influence of extremists amid fears that the regime may use or lose control of its stockpile of chemical weapons.
The US had been leading international efforts to prod the fractured Syrian opposition into coalescing around a leadership that would represent all of the country's factions and religions. Yet it had held back from granting recognition to the group until it demonstrated that it could organise itself in credible fashion.
In particular, Washington had wanted to see the group set up smaller committees that could deal with specific immediate and short-term issues, such as governing parts of Syria under their control and putting in place institutions to address the needs of people once Assad is ousted. Some of those committees could form the basis of a transitional government.
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was expected to attend the conference, but cancelled following an illness and will be represented by Deputy Secretary of State for the Middle East, William Burns.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said today the recognition contradicted earlier international agreements that foresee the "commencement of an all-Syria dialogue" that would include all sides of the conflict, in which more than 40,000 people have died so far.
Presents unwrapped, turkey gobbled... it's time to relax
Sean Abbott: Messages of support flood in for bowler after death of Phil Hughes
Plebgate: Andrew Mitchell’s reputation in tatters as judge rules he used the word ‘pleb’
Dr Lam Hoe Yeoh: Voyeur doctor jailed for eight years after using network of hidden cameras to film patients, colleagues and friends on the toilet
Kim Jong-un 'in dire need of allies' within his own government as younger sister appointed to senior role
Scientists predict green energy revolution after incredible new graphene discoveries
- 1 Shia LaBeouf claims he was raped during #IAMSORRY art installation performance
- 2 This letter from a reader explains why women can’t play football
- 4 Scientists predict green energy revolution after incredible new graphene discoveries
£25000 - £50000 per annum + £50,000 OTE + Car, Mobile, Benefits: h2 Recruit Lt...
£23200 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity to join ...
Excellent Package: Austen Lloyd: EAST ANGLIA - SENIOR SOLICITOR LEVEL ROLE** -...
£16000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Due to continuing expansion, a ...