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Syrian Opposition Unites in the “Syrian National Coalition”

By November 15, 2012

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syrian opposition rallyWas this the last chance for the struggling Syrian opposition? After months of failed talks and intense international pressure, main opposition groups last weekend in Qatar finally agreed to unite under the umbrella of the Syrian "National Coalition for Opposition and Revolutionary Forces".

The mostly exiled leaders of the Syrian National Council were forced to abandon their leadership claim, after failing over the past year to rally popular support and unite other opposition factions. As was made bluntly clear by Hillary Clinton prior to the Qatar conference, "there has to be representation of those who are on the front lines, fighting and dying today to obtain their freedom".

The significance of the new alliance is that it opens the doors to a more forceful intervention of Western governments, and their allies Turkey, Qatar and Saudi Arabia - including the provision of heavy weapons which could tip the military balance in the favor of armed opposition fighting the Syrian government troops.

The Gulf Arab states have already recognized the new alliance as the "sole representative of the Syrian people", as have Turkey and France. It was reported today that the UK is considering diplomatic recognition, along with discussions to lift the European Union's embargo on the sale of weapons into Syria.

Washington remains cautious on the sale of weapons, as no one really knows whether the new coalition really has the ability to establish a stable interim government, or rein in hundreds of armed opposition battalions operating more or less outside any control.

Still, with the US election over, and a re-energized Syrian opposition, I think we can expect more warplanes shot down over the battlefields of Aleppo in the coming months.

Read more about the Syrian National Coalition, and its leader, Moaz al-Khatib.

Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images.

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