First Published: 2012-11-14

 

US: new Syria body 'a legitimate representative'

 

Washington stops short of recognizing newly formed opposition National Coalition as government-in-exile.

 

Middle East Online

The National coalition

WASHINGTON - The United States said Tuesday the newly formed opposition National Coalition was "a legitimate representative" of the Syrian people, but stopped short of recognizing it as a government-in-exile.

"We now have a structure in place that can prepare for a political transition, but... we're looking for it to still establish the types of technical committees that will allow us to make sure our assistance gets to the right places," State Department deputy spokesman Mark Toner said.

"We do think this is a legitimate representative of the Syrian people, that it does reflect the Syrian people... that diverse group of Syrian people," he told journalists.

The diverse forces involved in the Syrian coalition agreed on Sunday to unify their fighting forces under a supreme military council and set up a national judicial commission for rebel-held areas in Syria.

The move which came after talks in Doha came after Washington pushed the Syrian National Council to broaden its membership, saying it was not representative of all the groups fighting to topple President Bashar al-Assad.

"We look forward, obviously, to supporting the national coalition as it charts a course for the end of Assad's bloody rule, and marks the start, we believe, of a peaceful, just and democratic future for the people of Syria," Toner said.

He insisted however that the group which emerged Sunday after four days of marathon talks in the Qatari capital resulted from a Syrian-led process.

"We've obviously been instrumental in the creation of -- and the secretary, in fact, has been instrumental in this creation of this group, the Friends of the Syrian People," Toner said.

"They were obviously there in force in Qatar to help, however we could, what was essentially a Syrian-led process. And that's important; it's important to delineate that this was a Syrian-led process, that the Syrians took charge of this, that they were the ones who worked through the long hours over the weekend and created this national council."

France on Tuesday became the first country to recognize the newly formed opposition group as the sole representative of the Syrian people and said it was time to review whether the rebels should be given arms.

But Toner said the US policy of providing only non-lethal support and humanitarian aid to the Syrian rebels remained unchanged.

Britain has also said it wants to see more evidence that the grouping has strong support inside Syria before formally recognizing it as effectively a government-in-exile.

London is to host a meeting on emergency aid for the Syrian people on Friday, which will be attended by the US special coordinator for Middle East transitions, ambassador Bill Taylor, Toner said.

He said one of the goals of Doha was to see "the creation of a political body that was more representative of the Syrian people. We do believe that has been accomplished."

"We also want to see that it has a demonstrated ability to represent Syrians within Syria," Toner said, adding the group now had to show it can "funnel assistance to where it's needed most" and prove itself "effective."

 

Polisario chief dies ‘after long illness’

Aid group warns of catastrophe in the making in Fallujah

Lieberman sworn in as Israel defence minister

Recovery in oil price eases pressure on OPEC

EU most senior lawyer backs work headscarf ban

Israeli court rules Sara Netanyahu harassed worker

Sudan detains eight human rights activists

Bahrain frees opposition activist, toddler son

EU warns migrants could be used as drug mules

IS presses assault in Aleppo province

Libya government allies capture coastal town from ISIS

New Yemen clashes kill at least 38 people in 24 hours

Ex-Miss Turkey sentenced 'for insulting Erdogan'

Death sentences for attack on Bahrain police upheld

Istanbul locked down on anniversary of Gezi Park demos

UN envoy calls for Libya unity to counter ISIS

Egypt journalist union leaders to face trial

Germany risks Turkey ties with Armenian 'genocide' vote

Kurd-led fighters seize more ground from ISIS in Syria

Iraq forces battle defiant IS outside Fallujah

Russian warplanes hit hospital, homes in Syria's Idlib

Saudi intercepts ballistic missile from Yemen

Hamas executes three men for murder in Gaza Strip

Egypt probes teenage girl's death during female circumcision operation

Jordan heads into elections by fall after parliament dissolution

Turkey to abandon migrant deal if no visa-free travel

Egypt court sentences Brotherhood leader to life in prison

Kuwait jails members of ruling family for insulting Emir

Tunisia blames ‘terrorist elements’ for deadly landmine blast

Turkey offers to join forces for Syria operation -- without Kurds

Sanctions gone, Iran drums up business with West

Starving Iraqis risk all to flee crumbling rule of ISIS

Iraq forces enter ISIS-held Fallujah from three directions

Chief negotiator of Syria opposition quits over failed talks

Bahrain appeal court ramps up jail sentence against Sheikh Ali Salman

Saudi Arabia accuses Iran of sowing ‘sedition’ in Iraq

Israel police send Netanyahu spending file to prosecutors

Bahrain court upholds life terms for five 'spies'

Investigators need 12 days to recover EgyptAir black boxes

Iraq troops prepare for final assault on ISIS-held Fallujah

Iraq Kurdish forces launch offensive east of Mosul

Shipwrecks in Mediterranean claim up to 700 lives in one week

Iran blames Saudi Arabia for Hajj impasse

ISIS offensive triggers mass displacement in northern Syria

Without clear roadmap, Libya unity government fails to bring change