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."

 

Blair calls on West to combat ‘growing’ danger of Islamist extremism

No Qatar ‘concessions’ on end of dispute with fellow Gulf states

Bahrain expels representative of Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani

Netayahu to Abbas: Does you want peace with Hamas or peace with Israel?

Dubai's Emaar posts huge Q1 profit

Witnesses in Morsi trial: Hamas and Hezbollah attacked Egypt prisons

Family of detained Al-Jazeera reporter in Egypt call for his release

Bomb targets convoy of Education Minister in north Iraq

After Ervin scandal, Iran Prisons Chief becomes Head of Justice Department

Egypt FM travels to US as Washington relaxes hold on military aid

US diplomat visits Libya amid political upheaval

Jarba asks Saudi Arabia to increase support for Syria rebels

Better late than never: Erdogan offers condolences over mass WWI killings of Armenians

Hezbollah veto dashes Geagea dreams of presidency

UN aid chiefs make impassionate call for Syria access

Police brigadier general killed in Cairo bomb attack

11 new MERS infections registered in Saudi

EU denounces Syria plans for June 3 election

Iran envoy row fails to make headway at UN

Amnesty: Qatar fails to protect domestic workers

US will deliver 10 Apache choppers to Egypt to counter terrorism

US expresses horror at South Sudan violence

Egypt's next president will have to deal with frustrated workers

Rival Palestinian leaders agree on national unity govt

Jumblatt backs lawmaker Henri Helou for Lebanon presidency

Global chemical watchdog: Syria weapons handover at 86.5 percent

Kerry ‘prefers’ Cold War-like situation to current complex challenges

Israel to call up Christian Arabs for military service

Egypt prosecutors submit new evidence in Jazeera trial

Families of Iran prisoners break silence over abuses at notorious Evin

Lebanon sends rare aid to its territory in Syria

Iran divorce rate increases amid slow population growth

Suspected militant attacks kill four Yemen officers in two days

Distrust casts shadow over South Kordofan peace talks

Ali Tarhuni heads Libya constituent assembly

Washington revisits story of Syria chemical weapons

PM Erdogan to tour Europe for expat presidency votes

Erdogan to May Day protesters: Give up on your hopes of Taksim!

Palestine plays down threat to dismantle PA

South Sudan army battle rebels as insurgents target oil fields

Two Somali MPs shot dead in 24 hours

MERS death toll keeps climbing in Saudi

Court deals blow to US administration on drone attacks

Berber protesters clash anew with Algeria police

US has 'indications' of new chemical attacks in Syria