What is The National Coalition for Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces? (+video)
The fractious Syrian opposition has come together to create a new unified front in their battle against President Bashar al-Assad.
Western leaders welcomed the Syrian opposition's unification into a new organization, which they hope will provide a means to bolster rebels on the ground in Syria in their fight against the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.Skip to next paragraph
Arthur Bright is the Europe Editor at The Christian Science Monitor. He has worked for the Monitor in various capacities since 2004, including as the Online News Editor and a regular contributor to the Monitor's Terrorism & Security blog. He is also a licensed Massachusetts attorney.
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BBC News reports that the West hopes the new opposition body, currently called The National Coalition for Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces, will provide a conduit that will allow funding – and possibly military aid – to be funneled to the Syrian rebels on the ground who are doing the actual fighting.
"We look forward to supporting the National Coalition as it charts a course toward the end of Assad's bloody rule and the start of the peaceful, just, democratic future that all the people of Syria deserve," US state department spokesman Mark Toner said in a statement.
UK Foreign Secretary William Hague said the move was an "important milestone in forming a broad and representative opposition that reflects the full diversity of the Syrian people."
The West had attempted to use the previous leading opposition group, the Syrian National Council, to a similar end, but the SNC proved too fragmented and detached from rebel forces to be successful, leading the US to publicly call for a new approach two weeks ago. The SNC will hold 22 of the new body's 60 seats.
The BBC adds that Qatar, host of the opposition talks and a key backer of the rebels, also welcomed the unification. Prime Minister Sheikh Hamad bin Jassem Al Thani said that he plans to travel Monday to "seek a full recognition of this new body" at the Arab League, which suspended Syria's membership due to the government's attacks on civilians.
Former SNC head Burhan Ghalioun told The New York Times that he hoped the world would act quickly to embrace the new group. “I think the difference will start to show right away on the ground as the people will feel that there is a political power that represents them, and one body that unites its opposition,” he said. “We expect international recognition in regional and international forums.”