Obama formally recognises Syrian opposition
President Barack Obama has recognised the Syrian opposition as the “legitimate representation” of the Syrian people.
The US has backed the Syrian opposition, led by cleric Moaz al-Khatib, as they feel it is open and representative enough of the various ethnic and religious groups in Syria – something Secretary of State Hillary Clinton raised concerns about previously.
“We’ve made a decision that the Syrian Opposition Coalition is now inclusive enough, is reflective and representative enough of the Syrian population, that we consider them the legitimate representative of the Syrian people in opposition to the Assad regime,” said Obama.
The UK, France, Turkey and the Gulf states have already given recognition to The National Coalition for Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces.
The statement from President Obama came ahead of a meeting of 70 foreign ministers to discuss the situation in Syria. Moaz al-Khatib addressed the meeting in Morocco, calling for President Bashar al-Assad’s Alawite sect to rise up in a campaign of “civil disobedience”.
Mr al-Khatib also stated countries in support of the Assad regime, such as China and Russia, would be held accountable if chemical weapons were used against the Syrian people.
Despite recognising the opposition, President Obama noted: “Not everyone who is participating on the ground in fighting Assad are people we are comfortable with. There are some who I think have adopted an extremist agenda, an anti-US agenda.”
The US and other supporting countries will work with the opposition coalition to help establish its authority, and isolate extremist groups.