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."

 

Iraqi forces seize Kirkuk governor's office

New UN envoy in Rabat to restart talks on WSahara

Hollande slams Trump's hardline stance on Iran nuclear deal

Mogadishu twin bomb death toll at 276

Lebanon promotes ‘back to public school’ drive

Iraq takes control of two key Kirkuk oil fields

US-backed forces retake Raqa state hospital

Divided Iraq tests limited US influence

Iraqi forces seize airport, oil field from Kurds

Saudi Arabia sets conditions to role in Syria reconstruction

In tougher approach, US offers multimillion-dollar reward for Hezbollah operatives

EU ministers join forces in support of Iran deal

Batteries, tape to thank for defeating jihadists in Raqa

Palestinian Authority top official visits Gaza

Israel strikes Syrian anti-aircraft battery in response to shots

Qatar starts to feel pinch from sanctions

Last days of Raqa battles ‘toughest fighting yet’

Omani role has helped Iran but may not do much in crisis with US

Head of IS in Southeast Asia dead

Gazans hope Palestinian reconciliation ends their woes

US-backed forces announce ‘final phase’ of Raqa recapture

Suspicion of football corruption shows limits of Qatar’s ‘soft power’

Schools closed on first day of term in rebel-held Yemen

Iraqi forces in standoff with Kurds in oil-rich Kirkuk

Protests in southern Morocco over water shortages

Iran’s Zarif says Trump speech in violation of nuclear deal

In Egypt, illiteracy rates down but problem remains

ISIS regroups in Libya amid jihadist infighting

Egypt’s Nation’s Future Party seeks to build on youth vote

Qatar freezes assets of royal member over Gulf crisis

Morocco dismantles IS-linked terror cell

Syrian troops recapture city of Mayadeen from IS

Gulf countries voice support for Trump’s tough stance on Iran

Princess named to head Saudi sports federation

IS fighters surrender as defeat in Raqa nears

Former French culture minister picked to head UNESCO

Baghdad issues ultimatum to Kurds on Kirkuk

Trump tears into Iran, leaves nuclear deal hanging

Iranians respond with anger, mockery to Trump speech

Somalia's defense minister, army chief resign

EU says it must watch IS in North Africa 'very carefully'

NATO chief urges US, Turkey to 'find solutions' to row

Turkey deploys troops to Syria's rebel-held Idlib

Four jihadists killed in Mali

Hamas dilemma in Palestinian reconciliation