Syrian National Coalition Gains International Support
The newly formed National Coalition of Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces gained further legitimacy with backing from the Arab League and support from the international community. U.S. State Department deputy spokesman Mark Toner released a statement saying, “We look forward to supporting the National Coalition as it charts a course toward the end of Assad’s bloody rule and the start of the peaceful, just, democratic future that all the people of Syria deserve.” Reading from the League’s resolution, Hamad bin Jassim al-Thani, Qatari prime minister and foreign minister, said “The Arab League ministerial council welcomes the agreement that the Syrian opposition parties reached … and calls on the other opposition parties to join this coalition.” The six members of the Gulf Cooperation Council unanimously agreed to recognize the coalition as “as the legitimate representative of the brotherly Syrian people,” said GCC chief Abdullatif al-Zayani. Meanwhile, groups within Syria have cautiously given their support to the new leadership council. “Any step toward a united Syria makes us happy. I don’t care if they never come to Syria, as long as they want to help us this is good,” said Shadi Hafeez, a fighter in the Free Syrian Army.
The new opposition group, which includes leadership spots reserved for minorities and for representatives of provincial revolutionary committees on the ground, expects more humanitarian and military aid from the international community. However, U.S. Ambassador Robert Ford reportedly told the groups negotiating in Doha last week that they should not expect U.S. military assistance, even if they did establish a new opposition council. Yet, coalition spokesman Yaser Tabbara said, “I believe the international community is ready to invest in the opposition both militarily and politically. That is the sense we got in Doha.” If the new coalition is recognized by key U.S. allies, namely Britain and France, as Syria’s new government, pressure would also grow on Washington to abandon its reluctance to provide sophisticated weaponry.