First Published: 2013-01-21


Syrian government-in-exile: Not without Qatar’s money


Opposition postpones decision on forming government-in-exile as Khatib leaves to Qatar to secure promises of financial aid.


Middle East Online

Qatar has final say

BEIRUT - The Syrian opposition said on Monday it had postponed a decision on forming a government-in-exile at its meeting in Istanbul.

Sources at negotiations in Istanbul said that the head of Syria’s opposition coalition has flown to Qatar to secure promises of financial aid for a transitional government.

“It seems that there won’t be a government unless Sheikh Moaz al-Khatib comes back from Qatar with enough to convince enough members of the coalition that any government they set up will be viable,” said one coalition member who declined to be identified.

“There is agreement on the need to establish a transitional government but the majority opinion favors not to form it now without secure areas to operate in and enough international support and guarantees for direct recognition,” coalition member Ahmad Ramadan said.

“Otherwise the government will be born paralyzed,” he added.

The Muslim Brotherhood, the primary organized force in the Syrian opposition, has made it clear it does not favor a government at present.

But opposition sources said the Brotherhood could change its mind if regional powers, especially Turkey, Qatar and other Gulf states, throw their support behind the project.

“Between the military effort and humanitarian and administration needs, a transitional government needs up to $40 million a day to operate. There is no point creating a government that cannot meet the aspirations of the revolt,” another source said.

The Syrian opposotion also says that it needs guarantees of support from dissident forces on the ground.

The Syrian National Council (SNC), a key component of the opposition, said the meeting held on Sunday formed a five-member panel to consult with the rebel Free Syrian Army, and other concerned parties on the issue.

"After studying the proposals and after deliberation on the question of creating an interim government, we decided to set up a five-member committee tasked with consulting with the forces of the revolution, the Free Syrian Army and friendly countries," the council said.

The Syrian National Council is an influential member of the National Coalition, which was set up in Doha in November in a bid to unify opposition forces fighting President Bashar al-Assad's regime.

Since it was formed, the National Coalition has been recognised by scores of states and organisations as the sole legitimate representative of the Syrian people.

Syria's 22-month revolt has been racked by political schisms and unmet promises of financial and military aid by the international community, dissidents say.

The opposition said the five-member committee would also be tasked with exploring "the extent of (opposition and international) commitment in order for the work to be financially and politically feasible."

The panel includes, among others, National Coalition chief Moaz al-Khatib, Syrian National Council head George Sabra and prominent Paris-based dissident, Burhan Ghalioun.

The opposition is due to meet again on January 28 in Paris, along with representatives of some 20 countries that back the revolt against Assad.

More than 60,000 people have been killed so far in the conflict that erupted in March 2011, according to United Nations figures.


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