Representatives from 11 Arab and Western countries, known as the ‘London 11’ Core Group of the Friends of Syria, met recently in London.
Representatives from 11 Arab and Western countries, known as the ‘London 11’ Core Group of the Friends of Syria, met recently in London. The group, which supports the moderate Syrian opposition, issued a communique announcing that through a coordinated strategy it would take steps to increase its support of the Syrian Opposition Coalition, the Supreme Military Council, and associated moderate armed groups. The group also denounced the Assad regime’s unilateral plan to hold illegitimate presidential elections on June 3.
At a press briefing after the meeting, Secretary of State John Kerry said that to help the moderate opposition in Syria “every facet of what can be done is going to be ramped up -- every facet – and that includes political effort. It includes the aid to the opposition. It includes economic efforts, sanctions:”
“There will be a ramped up effort to make it clear that despite the fact that Assad may think today he’s doing better and this process is somehow going to come to a close with him sitting pretty, the answer is no…We’re not going away. The opposition is not going away. We are determined to reach a political settlement that protects all of the people of Syria.”
Mr. Kerry noted that the United States has been frustrated with the current process of trying to get humanitarian aid to Syrians in desperate need, and that the Friends of Syria group is working to find new avenues to reach the people, some of whom have been under siege by Assad’s forces and were being starved to death. To make sure aid is delivered, Mr. Kerry said, “We’re going to join with other countries in an effort to try to guarantee accountability through the U.N.”
Mr. Kerry called Assad’s plan for a presidential election in the midst of the violence and the chaos he has unleashed in the country “a farce,” and noted that the Friends of Syria group has spoken in a strong and unified voice about the lack of legitimacy of such an election. “How do you have a legitimate election when half the people in your country are displaced and not able to vote,” asked Mr. Kerry. “How do you have a legitimate election when another several million people are in refugee camps unable to vote?”
Secretary of State Kerry said, ”Assad’s staged elections are…an insult. They are a fraud on democracy, on the Syrian people and on the world.”