Syria: opposition says Syrian National Council is "formal representative" of Syrian people


Syrian National Council leader Burhan Ghalioun attends a press conference after Syrian opposition groups meeting in Istanbul on March 27, 2012.


Bulent Kilic

Most of the fragmented Syrian opposition has united behind the Syrian National Council, the five-month-old group formed to represent Syria's opposition interests.

The group has clashed with other wings of the oppositon as exiles and opposition activists jostled to create a unified front to oppose the regime of Bashar al-Assad, the BBC reported. Opposition groups have been in reconciliation meetings in Istanbul for the past two days.

A statement said the SNC would be the "formal interlocutor and formal representative of the Syrian people."

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Some governments, such as the European Union, have already recognized the Syrian National Council as representative of the Syrian people, but infighting slowed the pace of diplomatic recognition.

Bloomberg wrote that Britain's foreign minsister, William Hague, said last month that the United Kingdom "was providing assistance 'to bring greater unity to the opposition in Syria.' "

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US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton also called on the opposition to craft a united vision before the April 1 "Friends of Syria" meeting in Istanbul. "We will be pushing them very hard to present such a vision in Istanbul," she said, according to the Daily Telegraph.

Activists had criticized the SNC, which is mostly comprised of exiles who live outside of Syria, as unrepresentative of the protesters and rebels leading the uprising within Syria. But, the BBC wrote, "after two days of exhaustive talks in Istanbul aimed at agreeing common objectives, delegates announced they had 'decided that the SNC is the formal interlocutor and formal representative of the Syrian people.' "

The group agreed to reform its inner workings, but the BBC reported that not all went according to plan. The network's reporter in Istanbul said "there were still many disputes at the conference, with one senior dissident walking out at the start because he felt he was not seated properly." In addition, Kurdish representatives withdrew "because they were not given the promises of autonomy they were seeking."