EU Supports New Syrian Opposition Group

By:  Warren Mass
11/21/2012
       
EU Supports New Syrian Opposition Group

At the meeting of the European Union's Foreign Affairs Council in Brussels on November 19, a group of 27 European foreign ministers issued a statement that read: "The EU considers [the newly formed Syrian opposition coalition] legitimate representatives of the aspirations of the Syrian people."

At the meeting of the European Union's Foreign Affairs Council in Brussels on November 19, a group of 27 European foreign ministers issued a statement that read: "The EU considers [the newly formed Syrian opposition coalition] legitimate representatives of the aspirations of the Syrian people." The statement said, "This agreement represents a major step towards the necessary unity of the Syrian opposition."

A statement posted on the EU's website said,

The EU is appalled by the worsening situation in Syria and deeply concerned about the implications of the Syrian crisis for security and stability. It "remains committed to the sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of Syria."

Since the EU as a body cannot officially recognize a government, it remains with each individual EU member to decide whether to officially extend diplomatic recognition to the Syrian opposition, whose formal name is the National Coalition for Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces. The new organization (commonly called the Syrian National Coalition) was formed in Doha, Qatar, on November 11. The Arab television network al-Jazeera, citing a release from Egypt's official news agency, reported an announcement by Ahmad Mouaz al-Khatib (pictured), head of the newly formed coalition, that the organization will have its headquarters in Cairo.

On November 12 the member states of the Cooperation Council for the Arab States of the Gulf — Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Bahrain, United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, and Oman — recognized the Syrian National Coalition as "the legitimate representative" of the Syrian people, at the same time withdrawing recognition of the Syrian government headed by Bashar al-Assad. France recognized the coalition on November 13, Turkey on November 15, Italy on November 19, and the United Kingdom on November 20. France is the only Western nation to have extended formal diplomatic recognition to the coalition.

Prior to the coalition meeting, British Foreign Secretary William Hague said: "I hope this meeting here today will give a boost to that opposition, to the coalition, and will appreciate that they have made a big step forward. I will speak about the question of recognition when I talk to the House of Commons later this week."

A statement posted on the U.S. State Department website on November 11 read:

Click here to read the entire article.

Photo of Syrian National Coalition leader Ahmad Mouaz al-Khatib: AP Images

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