News / Middle East

United Syrian Opposition Seeks Recognition in Cairo

Maath al-Khatib poses for a photo after being elected president of the newly formed Syrian National Coalition for Opposition and Revolutionary Forces, created after the Syrian National Council (SNC) agreed to the new group, November 11, 2012.
Maath al-Khatib poses for a photo after being elected president of the newly formed Syrian National Coalition for Opposition and Revolutionary Forces, created after the Syrian National Council (SNC) agreed to the new group, November 11, 2012.
Edward Yeranian
Members of the newly elected Syrian opposition umbrella group are meeting Monday with Arab League foreign ministers in Cairo to discuss plans for further international support in ousting embattled President Bashar al-Assad. U.N.-Arab League envoy Lakhdar Brahimi also is due to address the League.

A new opposition council was elected overnight in the Qatari capital, Doha. Islamic cleric Maath al-Khatib, a former imam at Damascus' venerable Umayyad Mosque, was chosen to head the group. Addressing the gathering, he explains his next move:

Al-Khatib said the first act of the new council will be to meet the head of the Arab League in Cairo and to work out a legal formula to recognize this group as the sole legitimate representative of the Syrian people.

Al-Khatib is to be accompanied on his visit by Qatari Prime Minister Sheikh Hamad bin Jassem bin Jabir Al Thani, whose government hosted the marathon four-day talks that culminated in Sunday's agreement.

Mouaz al-Khatib

  • Former imam at Umayyad mosque in Damascus
  • His father also was an imam at Umayyad mosque
  • Fled to Cairo, Egypt, after being arrested several times for supporting Syrian uprising
  • Headed Islamic Modernization Group
  • 52 years old
Veteran Syrian dissident Riad Seif, who devised the plan for a new opposition group, and whom many thought would be chosen to head it, said that foreign states have pledged to recognize the new entity.

Seif said there is a clear [international] promise for the first time to support the rebels in their quest to defend the Syrian people against regime warplanes, heavy artillery and tanks.

Khattar Abou Diab, who teaches political science at the University of Paris, said the new council aims to provide a moderate face of the opposition to win international support.

Diab said the new alliance was formed in response to international pressure to reorganize the opposition. He said that some foreign states may want the new council to talk to the Assad regime, but he doubted that would happen. The new leadership, he said, symbolically includes a moderate Sunni cleric and a leftist Christian, to gain more international support.

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov, on the social media network Twitter, urged the new opposition council to hold talks with Syria's government. Russia, along with Iran, are main outside backers of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

In Syria on Monday, a crowd of onlookers gathers around victims of a bombing by a government warplane of the border town of Ras al-Ain.  Amateur video shows a billowing cloud of smoke over the town, as residents shout that a warplane may have dropped a barrel-bomb, stuffed with explosives.

Rebel fighters captured the mostly Kurdish town along the Turkish border several days ago, after defeating government troops and Kurdish fighters. Unconfirmed reports say that Kurdish leaders had urged the rebels not to occupy the town to avoid government retaliation.

Elsewhere, dozens of artillery shells pounded Damascus' Tadamon district, igniting fires and spewing black and grey clouds of smoke into a rainy sky. Arab satellite channels reported that the government's Fourth Brigade brought in tanks to shell the area.

Heavy government artillery barrages and aerial bombardments also were reported over the eastern part of Syria. Amateur videos showed mosques and other buildings reduced to rubble. The rebels claimed to have downed a government helicopter in a video showing the flaming hulk of a chopper.

Also Monday, the Israeli military said one of its tanks fired into Syria scored "direct hits" against Syrian mobile artillery in response to a Syrian mortar shell that struck the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights. It was the second time in two days that Israel has responded to what it said was errant Syrian fire.

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Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Janisa from: WJHTRvulCvJ
November 29, 2012 8:29 AM
You have more useful info than the Bristih had colonies pre-WWII.

by: Michael from: USA
November 13, 2012 12:30 AM
A Syrian peaceful and democratic future places on the table a legacy of western politic which shows the intransigent mind-set in the larger world-in-waiting which Syria will have to face after its war. Can it do this?

by: musawi melake from: -
November 12, 2012 6:33 AM
When it comes to Islam, there's nothing called "moderate. "It's a non-existent thing. At the end of the day the West is going to hand over the power to an extremist regime after toppling the Assads, who have been not unfriendly after all.
In Response

by: Shakeel from: Pakistan
November 14, 2012 4:21 AM
and the Christians who are interfering and intervening in Syria by allowing them weapons for bloodshed are moderate? what has happened to the Christians which has deteriorated the peace of the world in the name of so called terrorism. In Iraq the so called champions of peace killed more than a million Muslims by falsely alleging presence of WMDs, and yet they are moderate. In Afghanistan they invaded for shaping the new world order and killed thousands, yet they are moderate. these sympathizers of Muslims killed the Libyan president for oil and destroyed the peace of Libya and yet you are moderate. In fact when you are told not to deteriorate and the peace and serenity of the world , you say "we are peace lovers" .... thanks to your propaganda machines. plz let the Muslims to live with peace.
In Response

by: Anonymous
November 12, 2012 2:37 PM
that is right!!! whatever you may say about Assad - he kept the border calm with Israel... never allowed anyone to molest them from his territory... I wonder if his successor can manage that... look at Morsi... the Sinai is Al Qada territory today...

by: bigass from: dakar
November 12, 2012 5:58 AM
i think peace must be the priority of syrian rebel as asad. they have to life in peace .

by: Shakeel from: Pakistan
November 12, 2012 5:25 AM
i would ask the USA to stop its illegal interference and intervention in Syria and throughout the world for its illegal interests.. stop providing weapons to the so called Syrian rebels so that the bloodshed you have provoked in Syria stops.
In Response

by: Anonymous
November 29, 2012 2:34 PM
Shakeel, I believe the fake "pro rebel" commenter are paid well by the oily royals in the gulf, who want to make it "seem" like there is a revolution but the reality is that Syrians would prefer stability and peace over what the duplicitous "rebels" can offer.
In Response

by: Free Syrian from: Syria
November 12, 2012 11:38 AM
I can't wait until the Assad regime falls and all these pro-ASSad comments all over the internet from ASSad's paid cyber army stop trying to change public opinion in favor of ASSad. Nobody believes you, you have lost, join the people's freedom revolution before its too late.

by: Shakeel from: Pakistan
November 12, 2012 4:54 AM
yea. he is good because he serves US interests better.

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