Earlier this week Secretary Clinton announced that the United States will continue its efforts to help Syrian opposition forces to form a unified leadership.Clinton withdrew U.S. support for the beleaguered Syrian National Council, the opposition group often criticized for having weak links to the groups fighting inside Syria. The NYT has the story:
“We’ve made it clear that the S.N.C. can no longer be viewed as the visible leader of the opposition,” Mrs. Clinton said, referring to the Syrian National Council. It can participate, she added, “but that opposition must include people from inside Syria and others who have a legitimate voice that needs to be heard.”
The United States is now banking on a new group being formed next week at a meeting of hundreds of opposition leaders in Qatar, though there are already signs that the opposition will once again fail to unite.The situation in Syria is not getting better, and the intense frustration that American officials feel at the failure to develop some kind of solid and workable united front among the opposition is entirely understandable. Via Meadia supports Secretary Clinton’s call for new, respected, strong and unified opposition leadership, but we fear that once again the quest for an acceptable Syrian opposition front will fail.The Obama administration has painted itself into a corner in Syria, calling loudly for revolutionary change, repeatedly stating that Assad must go, and then failing to find Syrian opposition leaders it can wholeheartedly endorse. It might have been smarter to work first on promoting the development of a strong opposition coalition and only then to start calling in public for Assad to step down. As it is, if the Qatar meeting fails, the United States will lack a workable Syria policy even as hundreds die every week and the prospects for stability darken.