New Syrian Opposition Group Swallows Up Syrian National Council


U.S. media is widely reporting on the formation of a new, broader-based Syrian opposition group that includes members from the Syrian National Council (SNC). According to a USA Today report, the new group has been recognized by the Gulf Cooperation Council:

2:39PM EST November 12. 2012 – ANTAKYA, Turkey – The six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council says it has recognized the new broad-based Syrian opposition group as the legitimate representatives of the Syrian people. Monday’s statement is the first formal recognition for the newly united opposition group that seeks to topple President Bashar Assad.It also could be another step toward opening up greater military aid to the rebels from the Gulf states such as Qatar, which hosted the Syrian opposition meeting. Syrian rebel groups formed the new, unified opposition body in the face of escalating violence in the country and spillover in the region, but the jury is out on whether it will be more credible and effective than the council it replaces. “All the FSA (Free Syrian Army) leaders demanded that (the opposition) politicians unite before,” said Mosa Ahmed, an FSA fighter and member of the Free Syrian Lawyers, based in Antakya, Turkey. “I hope that all the FSA units will accept the new council, but I can’t guarantee it.” Western powers have held back from assisting rebels directly for fear that weapons could fall into the hands of terrorists. But on Sunday, delegates in Qatar ended days of talks with an agreement to band together under the umbrella of the National Coalition for Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces (NCSROF) — an organization made up of 60 seats and including members from the main opposition Syrian National Council (SNC). Read the rest here.

The NYT had earlier reported on efforts by the Syrian National Council (SNC), a group with heavy Muslim Brotherhood participation,  to resist the unification initiative:

DOHA, Qatar — The Syrian National Council, the largest antigovernment coalition, resisted an initiative on Saturday that would place all opponents of the government under one umbrella — a streamlining sought by foreign backers who fear that the bickering exile movements are being eclipsed by events on the battlegrounds in Syria.  ‘Nobody should be subsumed under anybody,’ said George Sabra, the newly elected president of the council, opening his inaugural news conference here in a combative mood before heading into negotiations over the unification proposal. ‘The S.N.C. is older than this initiative or any other initiative, and it has a deep political and regional structure,’ said Mr. Sabra, 65, a Christian and a veteran leftist dissident. But a group of more than 50 activists of various stripes — backed by the United States, Qatar and other foreign supporters of the uprising — have proposed creating a larger body that would include the council. It would effectively end the S.N.C.’s failed efforts of more than a year to be recognized as the government in exile for all Syrians. Called the Syrian National Initiative, the new group is aimed at incorporating virtually all opposition parties, internal councils and notable figures. Read the rest here.

A post from earlier this month reported that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had dismissed the Syrian National Council (SNC) as no longer the “visible leader of the opposition.” A post from late August reported that a third individual was identified who is tied to the U.S. Muslim Brotherhood and who is also a part of the SNC. Previous posts had noted that the SNC includes at least two other known members of the U.S. Muslim Brotherhood- Louay Safi, a leader in the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) and Najib Ghadbian, a board member of the Center for the Study of Islam and Democracy (CSID). The relationship between the SNC and Global Muslim Brotherhood leader Youssef Qaradawi should also be noted. The GMBDW notes that the NYT report above failed to mention any of the Safi’s ties to the U.S. Muslim Brotherhood. In 2007, the Wall Street Journal reported on moves by the U.S. Government to reach closer relations with the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood. For a comprehensive account of the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood in 2006, go here.

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