By Ali Al-Bassam
Impunity Watch Reporter, Middle East
DAMASCUS, Syria — Last Monday, the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), comprised of six Gulf states, decided to recognize the National Coalition for Opposition and Revolutionary Forces (NCORF) as the legitimate representative of the Syrian people.
The move is welcomed by both Western and Arab enemies of President Bashar Al-Assad, who hope that the recognition will finally unify “a fractious and ineffective opposition.” Washington said it would back the coalition “as it charts a course toward the end of Assad’s bloody rule and the start of the peaceful, just, democratic future.”
“The states of the council announce recognizing the NCORF… as the legitimate representative of the brother Syrian people,” GCC Chief Abdullatif Al-Zayani said in a statement last Monday. He also said that he hoped the move creates “a general national congress to pave the way to build a state ruled by law and open to all its citizens.”
The Arab League, who suspended Syria’s membership a year ago, recently granted the NCORF ” observer status, hesitating to recognize the coalition as Syria’s sole representative. Even though this means that the Arab League does not yet fully recognize the NCORF as the Syrian leadership, Al Jazeera reporter Jacky Rowland said that the “observer status is a good step.”
Qatari Minister of State for Foreign Affairs believes that the NCORF having full recognition by the GCC is beneficial for it, since it removes any obstacles in the coalition’s attempts to secure arms for rebel fighters. Mouaz Al-Khatib, the coalition’s newly recognized leader, says that it had already received promises of weapons, but did not say from whom.
Al-Khatib, a former imam, was unanimously elected by the NCORF to lead it. In a recent address, he called for unity between various sectarian and ethnic groups, saying “[w]e demand freedom for every Sunni, Alawi, Ismaili, Christian, Druze, Assyrian… and rights for all parts of the harmonious Syrian people.”
Hezbollah, head of Lebanon’s Shiite group and a key ally of Assad, criticized the coalition’s recognition as a “U.S. invention whose refusal to negotiate would only lead to more destruction.”
Meanwhile, Israel reported that its military tanks took “direct hits” by Syrian artillery units after an area near an Israeli army post was hit by Syrian mortar shells on the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights for the second consecutive day. Also, A Syrian government aircraft bombed the town of Ras Al-Ahn, an opposition stronghold located on the border of Turkey. Civilians were seen fleeing across the border to the Turkish settlement of Ceylanpinar. NATO has assured Turkey that it will “do what it takes to protect Turkey.”
For further information, please see:
Al Arabiya — Arab League Recognizes Syria’s new Opposition Bloc — 12 November 2012
Al Jazeera — GCC Recognizes new Syrian Opposition Bloc — 12 November 2012
BBC News — Syria Crisis: Gulf States Recognize Syria Opposition — 12 November 2012
Reuters — New Syria Opposition Seeks Recognition; Israel Fires from Golan — 12 November 2012
Times of Israel — A Syrian Coalition is Born — 12 November 2012