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One of the reasons for the lack of progress in Syrian conflict has been the weakness of the opposition. The opposition has failed to function as a coherent group, with a powerful leadership which can guide the rebels and instill confidence in the ordinary people. The international community too, especially Arabs, have failed to address this problem and find the solutions.
But supporters of the uprising have begun to take note of this point. The United States yesterday called for overhaul of the opposition leadership, saying it was time to move beyond the Syrian National Council and bring in those “in the front lines fighting and dying”. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, indicating intensified efforts by Washington to help form a credible political opposition to Bashar Al Assad, said a meeting to be held in Qatar next week would be an opportunity to broaden the coalition against him.
The opposition is currently in fractured. Those who are operating from outside Syria have no clue about the realities on the ground as they have been abroad for a long time, and those who are fighting inside Syria haven’t been able to form a powerful leadership because Assad had never allowed the opposition to operate in the country.
Clinton’s statement also indicates disappointment with the dominant opposition group, Syrian National Council (SNC) due to its inability to make credible progress despite the huge international support. But SNC is a largely foreign-based group which has been among the most vocal proponents of international intervention in the conflict.
One of the biggest failures of SNC has been its inability to bring together all groups with a coherent plan and it doesn’t have enough influence with the disparate internal groups which have waged the 19-month uprising against Assad’s government. The fact that the rebels haven’t united under a common leadership until now is astounding. Senior member of the SNC, Free Syrian Army (FSA) and other rebel groups admitted this fact at a meeting in Turkey yesterday and have pledged to unite behind a transitional government in coming months. “It’s been our divisions that have allowed the Assad forces to reach this point,” Ammar Al Wawi, a rebel commander, said in Istanbul.
The backers of Syrian rebels need to focus their attention on strengthening the hands of the opposition. As long as the opposition remains rudderless, incoherent and powerless, the conflict will just drag on and cause more destruction and death. It will also create a vacuum which will be exploited by terrorist organizations. Already, Al Qaeda and other terrorist groups are trying to infiltrate and gain a foothold in Syria.