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In early 2011, when popular uprisings began to sweep the Middle East, policymakers and pundits alike presumed the Syrian regime was immune to such unrest. However, the arrest and torture of several 15-year-old boys in March caused the streets of Syria to erupt in protest. Over the course of the past nine months, tens of thousands have come out to demonstrate, with unrest from the cities of Deraa, Banyas, Deir al-Zour and Homs spreading throughout Syria, and ultimately engaging between 90 and 110 cities and towns.
- Help the SNC develop a well-defined platform, governance structure, and communications strategy, so that it can serve as a veritable representative of the opposition. It has become clear that the SNC is now the only body that can represent the opposition.
- Make clear that the U.S. will not support military intervention and firmly encourage the SNC to consider its strategic options and develop suitable policies accordingly.
- If the SNC is able to become an effective political body, encourage it to negotiate directly with the regime for a transfer of power. The SNC should use its de facto leverage to engage the FSA and other opposition entities in negotiations for a political transition as well.