News / Middle East

US Looks for New Civilian Leadership in Syrian Opposition

US Looks for New Civilian Leadership in Syrian Oppositioni
|| 0:00:00
X
Scott Stearns
November 01, 2012 5:41 PM
The main opposition Syrian National Council long looked to be the foundation of a transitional authority to replace President Assad. But Washington has watched with frustration at the SNC's personality-driven leadership and its failure to incorporate more minority Alawites and Kurds.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton speaks in Zagreb, Croatia, Oct. 31, 2012.

The Obama administration is looking for a new group of Syrians to lead the rebellion against President Bashar Assad. It says the Syrian National Council (SNC) has shown itself unable to unify the opposition and end the Assad family’s four decades of rule.

The SNC long looked to be the foundation of a transitional authority to replace President Assad. But Washington has watched with frustration at the opposition's personality-driven leadership and its failure to incorporate more minority Alawites and Kurds. They can no longer be viewed as the visible leader of the opposition, said U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

"They can be part of a larger opposition, but that opposition must include people from inside Syria and others who have a legitimate voice that needs to be heard," Clinton said, adding that Syria needs opposition leaders who represent everyone.

"It is not a secret that many inside Syria are worried about what comes next. They have no love lost for the Assad regime, but they worry, rightly so, about the future," said Clinton. "And so there needs to be an opposition that can speak to every segment and every geographic part of Syria."

That, she said, comes from inside Syria.

"This cannot be an opposition represented by people who have many good attributes but have, in many instances, not been inside Syria for 20, 30, or 40 years. There has to be a representation of those who are on the front lines, fighting and dying today to obtain their freedom," said Clinton.

The push from the Obama administration comes as more local governance emerges in areas controlled by the rebel Free Syrian Army. Steve Heydemann, who directs Middle East programs at the U.S. Institute of Peace, said the new leadership in these areas have credibilty.

"They pose some very interesting new possibilities for how civilian control might emerge in Syria from the bottom-up rather than from the top-down or from the outside-in," he said.

Politicians outside Syria increasingly risk being eclipsed by FSA fighters, he added.

"One of the big challenges to the political opposition now is that the leadership of the FSA has moved its headquarters inside of Syria. And it increases the perception that the civilian leadership is out of touch, not in direct contact with the people who are on the front lines of this revolution."

Heydemann said the Assad regime sees limits of foreign military support for its opponents.

"They are feeling emboldened. They feel as if Russia, China, Iran, Hezbollah are very firmly on their side. They sense the prevarication of the international community in increasing its support for the opposition. And they feel that gives them the advantage. I'm afraid that their calculus in that regard could turn out to be correct," said Heydemann.

Still, Clinton said Washington is not giving up on the mediation efforts of United Nations and Arab League Special Envoy Lakhdar Brahimi.

You May Like

Ebola Death Toll Nears 5,000 as Virus Advances

West Africa bears heaviest burden; Mali toddler’s death raises new fears More

Jordan’s Battle With Islamic State Militants Carries Domestic Risks

Despite Western concerns that IS militants are preparing a Jordanian offensive, analysts call the kingdom's solid intel a strong deterrent More

Asian-Americans Assume Office in Record Numbers

Steadily deepening engagement in local politics pays off for politicians like Chinese-American Judy Chu More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Jamal
November 03, 2012 9:13 AM
Looks like Hillary didn't like the realities on the ground and is trying to change them through personnel change. This is a waste of time and it will come back to haunt the US.


by: Michael from: USA
November 02, 2012 1:09 AM
One could say that the early opposition proved to be unacceptable in leadership quality, but more so that the opposition was not true to the Palestinian struggle


by: musawi melake
November 01, 2012 2:26 PM
So, the US and its Western allies are finding it very very difficult to white-wash a terrorist group into a legitimate govt. There's only one legitimate govt. in Syria, i.e. the govt. led by President Assad, and no matter what the Obama-club tries, things can't change on the ground since their coolies are none other than a bunch of selfish-minded individuals who want to become rich and powerful by utilizing the usual cravings for change and betterment.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
October 25, 2014 4:21 PM
Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukraine

Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Comanche Chief Quanah Parker’s Century-Old House Falling Apart

One of the most fascinating people in U.S. history was Quanah Parker, the last chief of the American Indian tribe, the Comanche. He was the son of a Comanche warrior and a white woman who had been captured by the Indians. Parker was a fierce warrior until 1875 when he led his people to Fort Sill, Oklahoma, and took on a new, peaceful life. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Cache, Oklahoma, Quanah’s image remains strong among his people, but part of his heritage is in danger of disappearing.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.

All About America

AppleAndroid