Many nations around the world have declared that Syrian President Assad has lost all legitimacy and have called on him to step down.
Violence has been raging in Syria for 20 months, ever since peaceful anti-government demonstrators took to the streets to protest the rule of President Bashar al Assad and were met with ferocious and ever increasing brutality by government troops. The death toll in Syria is now reportedly approaching 40,000, the majority of them civilians. More than 400,000 Syrians have fled into neighboring countries as the conflict between regime and rebel forces intensifies.
Syria’s neighbor Turkey recently requested that NATO provide missiles to help Turkey defend itself against possible attacks by the Syrian government. Turkey is hosting the largest number of Syrian refugees.
Many nations around the world have declared that Syrian President Assad has lost all legitimacy and have called on him to step down and allow Syria to transition to a democratic government. On November 11 at a meeting in Doha, Qatar, regime opponents formed a new umbrella group called the National Coalition of the Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces, whose platform supports a Syria based on pluralism, tolerance and democratic values. The coalition has been recognized as Syria’s sole legitimate authority by the six nations of the Gulf Cooperation Council -- Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Bahrain, United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, and Oman – as well as Britain and France. France and Qatar have gone so far as to invite the group to install an ambassador in their capitals.
State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland said the United States regards the new coalition as a “legitimate representative” of the Syrian people, as well. The U.S. is encouraging the group, she said, “to take the next steps to strengthen its organizational structure, [and] to demonstrate its effective outreach to groups on the ground.” Meanwhile the U.S. “is continuing to look at what is appropriate in terms of our diplomatic engagement with them.”
Ms. Nuland noted that the opposition coalition’s president Moaz al-Khatib has reiterated that what is most important to have in Syria is a nation “where all populations can coexist – a nation of tolerance.” That, said Ms. Nuland, “is what we support; that is what we seek.”