FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Syrian Rebels Turn on Their Political Leadership

by PATRICK COCKBURN

Syrian rebel groups have strongly criticised their political leadership outside Syria, saying it has no real connection to the rebellion and calling for half of its members to be drawn from fighters inside the country.

The rebuke follows a chaotic week for the Syrian National Coalition (SNC) and is likely to further undermine the standing of the opposition to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad which has been treated by its foreign backers as if it were capable of replacing Mr Assad and its regime.

A meeting of the exiled SNC in Istanbul has still not decided if it will attend a peace conference in Geneva, tentatively planned for June, and, if so, who should attend. It is also deadlocked about Western-supported proposals to broaden the membership of the 60-member coalition with more secular representatives.

The statement issued in the name of the Revolutionary Movement in Syria said that the failure of the opposition had opened the door to “blatant interference” by outside powers. This is probably a reference primarily to Saudi Arabia and Qatar, which support different opposition factions; Qatar supports the Muslim Brotherhood, which is regarded with suspicion by the Saudis.

As serious diplomatic moves aimed at a negotiated settlement initiated by the US and Russia begin, the total disarray and rancorous disagreements of the Syrian opposition will seriously hamper efforts by their foreign backers to support them as the new leadership of Syria.

The Revolutionary Movement of Syria said it could not “bestow legitimacy upon any political body that subverts the revolution”. Moaz al-Khatib, the former leader of the coalition, said he had stepped down because he had no influence and the group was a proxy for Saudi Arabia and Qatar.

The chaos in opposition ranks is also likely to discredit the EU decision to end the arms embargo on supplying weapons to the rebels. Russia warned that the decision would damage plans for peace talks being made by Russia and the US. In response, Russia has already said it will send ground-to-air S-300 missiles to Syria, while Israel has said it will act to stop their delivery.

Meanwhile, inside Syria elite troops are being sent to reinforce the government offensive against the town of Qusayr outside Homs, near the Lebanese border.

Rebels there have been under heavy attack for a week but are still holding out in parts of the town, which is heavily damaged. Fighters from Hezbollah in Lebanon are for the first time playing a central and open role in the fighting, which has also been joined, on the rebel side, by Sunni fighters from Lebanon.

In a further development, Britain said it had sent a letter to  Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon with new information of alleged chemical-weapons use by the Syrian government. Britain’s UN Ambassador Mark Lyall Grant said his Government has continued to provide new information to the UN.

PATRICK COCKBURN is the author of “Muqtada: Muqtada Al-Sadr, the Shia Revival, and the Struggle for Iraq.

Patrick Cockburn is the author of  The Rise of Islamic State: ISIS and the New Sunni Revolution.

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

Weekend Edition
January 20, 2017
Friday - Sunday
Paul Street
Divide and Rule: Class, Hate, and the 2016 Election
Andrew Levine
When Was America Great?
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: This Ain’t a Dream No More, It’s the Real Thing
Yoav Litvin
Making Israel Greater Again: Justice for Palestinians in the Age of Trump
Linda Pentz Gunter
Nuclear Fiddling While the Planet Burns
Ruth Fowler
Standing With Standing Rock: Of Pipelines and Protests
David Green
Why Trump Won: the 50 Percenters Have Spoken
Dave Lindorff
Imagining a Sanders Presidency Beginning on Jan. 20
Pete Dolack
Eight People Own as Much as Half the World
Roger Harris
Too Many People in the World: Names Named
Steve Horn
Under Tillerson, Exxon Maintained Ties with Saudi Arabia, Despite Dismal Human Rights Record
John Berger
The Nature of Mass Demonstrations
Stephen Zielinski
It’s the End of the World as We Know It
David Swanson
Six Things We Should Do Better As Everything Gets Worse
Alci Rengifo
Trump Rex: Ancient Rome’s Shadow Over the Oval Office
Brian Cloughley
What Money Can Buy: the Quiet British-Israeli Scandal
Mel Gurtov
Donald Trump’s Lies And Team Trump’s Headaches
Kent Paterson
Mexico’s Great Winter of Discontent
Norman Solomon
Trump, the Democrats and the Logan Act
David Macaray
Attention, Feminists
Yves Engler
Demanding More From Our Media
James A Haught
Religious Madness in Ulster
Dean Baker
The Economics of the Affordable Care Act
Patrick Bond
Tripping Up Trumpism Through Global Boycott Divestment Sanctions
Robert Fisk
How a Trump Presidency Could Have Been Avoided
Robert Fantina
Trump: What Changes and What Remains the Same
David Rosen
Globalization vs. Empire: Can Trump Contain the Growing Split?
Elliot Sperber
Dystopia
Dan Bacher
New CA Carbon Trading Legislation Answers Big Oil’s Call to Continue Business As Usual
Wayne Clark
A Reset Button for Political America
Chris Welzenbach
“The Death Ship:” An Allegory for Today’s World
Uri Avnery
Being There
Peter Lee
The Deep State and the Sex Tape: Martin Luther King, J. Edgar Hoover, and Thurgood Marshall
Patrick Hiller
Guns Against Grizzlies at Schools or Peace Education as Resistance?
Randy Shields
The Devil’s Real Estate Dictionary
Ron Jacobs
Singing the Body Electric Across Time
Ann Garrison
Fifty-five Years After Lumumba’s Assassination, Congolese See No Relief
Christopher Brauchli
Swing Low Alabama
Dr. Juan Gómez-Quiñones
La Realidad: the Realities of Anti-Mexicanism
Jon Hochschartner
The Five Least Animal-Friendly Senate Democrats
Pauline Murphy
Fighting Fascism: the Irish at the Battle of Cordoba
Susan Block
#GoBonobos in 2017: Happy Year of the Cock!
Louis Proyect
Is Our Future That of “Sense8” or “Mr. Robot”?
Charles R. Larson
Review: Robert Coover’s “Huck out West”
David Yearsley
Manchester-by-the-Sea and the Present Catastrophe
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail