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:
The United States congratulates the representatives of the Syrian people on the formation of the National Coalition for Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces. We look forward to supporting the National Coalition as it charts a course toward the end of Assad's bloody rule and the start of the peaceful, just, democratic future that all the people of Syria deserve. We will work with the National Coalition to ensure that our humanitarian and non-lethal assistance serves the needs of the Syrian people. We also commend the Government of Qatar for its steadfast leadership and support of this conference.
The coalition does not include all anti-Assad groups, however. A report from UPI stated that some Islamic opposition fighters rejected it.
The Arab television network al-Jazeera, noted UPI, reported the release of a video in which fighters from at least 14 brigades, including the Liwaa al-Tawhid and Jubhat a-Nusra groups, stated that they had rejected the coalition in order to pursue the creation of an Islamic state in Syria. The statement has not been authenticated.
UPI also quoted one Mohammad Saeed of the Syrian Revolution General Commission, who said: "Whether this statement is true or not, the Syrian people are all supportive of the coalition. These groups have no right to support or reject the coalition."
Despite the apparent enthusiasm for the new coalition among Western governments, serious questions remain about the nature of the opposition forces in Syria. In an article for The New American on July 16, for example, foreign correspondent Alex Newman wrote about the connection between the Syrian opposition and such Western financial and foreign policy power brokers as Goldman Sachs, George Soros, the Council on Foreign Relations, the Bilderberg conference, and even the U.S. government. Newman cited Charlie Skelton, who analyzed the Syrian opposition in an article for the British Guardian. In his article, Skelton discounted the most frequently cited Syrian sources providing statements to the media about the opposition, explaining that many are openly connected to what he calls "the Anglo-American opposition creation business."
One of the key opposition players noted by Skelton is Bassma Kodmani, one of the top leaders in the "Syrian National Council," which will fill 22 of 60 seats in the council that will govern the new Syrian National Coalition. A biography of Kodmani in Wikipedia notes her role in the Syrian uprising: "After the start of the 2011-2012 Syrian uprising, Bassma Kodmani took a prominent role in the opposition against the regime of Bashar al Assad. She regularly wrote articles welcoming the protesters' call for democracy in Syria and denouncing the fierce repression of Bashar al Assad and its use of a sectarian strategy to undermine the uprising."
Newman detailed some of Kodmani's connection to the Western establishment elite:
Consider, for example, that [Kodmani] was at this year's Bilderberg conference in Chantilly, Virginia — a secret yearly meeting of the top global power brokers from media, finance, government, military, intelligence, business, and more, that has come under criticism from across the political spectrum. Kodmani was also at the 2008 Bilderberg conference, though she was listed as French then. Now, for reasons that are not entirely clear, her official affiliation is listed only as "international." Before Bilderberg, Kodmani was a former official with the massive Ford Foundation, an organization that has also come under fire for its controversial efforts to remake the world. More recently, she was serving as the executive director of the "Arab Reform Initiative" for the powerful U.S.-based globalist outfit known as the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) — yet another controversial elite group that is often faced with severe criticism for its hostility to national sovereignty, as well as American traditions of self-governance and individual liberty. The CFR membership roster includes many of the most influential figures in U.S. politics, business, military, and more.
Newman concluded his report with an ominous warning:
There are also numerous other factions, including al-Qaeda, battling the regime in Syria right now. So despite the carefully constructed media-created perception of an opposition unified behind the Western establishment-backed SNC for "democracy," there are actually numerous armed revolutionaries who are at odds with each other. Those divisions will eventually explode if and when Assad is finally ousted.
As support from the West for the Syrian National Coalition increases, Assad's odds for holding on to power are diminished proportionately. As for what this will mean for Syrians, a history of the fallout from what Skelton calls "the Anglo-American opposition creation business" indicates life will get worse, not better. We need only look at what has happened in Libya, post-Gadhafi, where a year after the former tyrant's demise, several Libyan militias aligned with the new government were still shelling the Gadhafi-loyalist stronghold of Bani Walid. Or in Egypt, post-Mubarak,when Coptic Christians who enjoyed religious freedom under Mubarak have faced persecution and physical attacks as hardliners have gained political dominance, vowing to rule Egypt by Islamic law. Or in Iraq, post-Saddam Hussein, where, according to a report from the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), "Half or more of the pre-2003 Iraqi Christian community is believed to have left the country, with Christian leaders warning that the consequence of this flight may be the end of Christianity in Iraq...."
A February 2007 report from the Assyrian International New Agency, "Christians Fleeing Iraq," noted that the refugees included a disproportionately high number of Christians — perhaps as many as a third of the total. The article also reported where most of the refugees were heading: "According to United Nations officials, about 2 million Iraqis have fled the country since the start of the war — mostly to Jordan and Syria...." (Emphasis added.)
Photo of Syrian National Coalition leader Ahmad Mouaz al-Khatib: AP Images