Sunday, December 16, 2012

Who's who in the Syrian opposition

Soon, there will be two years since Syria entered the gallery of killing fields in the Middle East. With at least 40,000 victims and the spectre of the chemical war, it was about time for the West to encourage further progress and to get ready for an eventual power take-off. 

A couple of days ago, before the forth meeting of the 'Friends of the Syrian People' (sounds very Cold War style, but I prefer to refrain my comments on that), that took place in Marrakesch, Morocco, under the high patronage of the King. This forum was an idea of the then French president Nicolas Sarkozy - who made a difference as well in the approach of the Libyan crisis. In 2012, the group met three times besides Morocco, in Tunis (February), Istanbul (April), Paris (July). Over 130 countries and NGOs are part of this informal body.

Weeks after the EU support, the US granted his recognition to the Syrian National Coalition, led by sheikh Ahmad Moaz al-Khatib. Geologist by profession, he has a Sunni background. He is the son of the sheikh Mohammed Abu al-Faraj al-Khatib, a preacher and Moaz himself used to be imam at the Umayyad Mosque in Damascus. Even though he is considered 'moderate', his discourses do have anti-Western and anti-Semitic turns. Al-Khatib was imprisoned several times for his political options and started to operate underground from the time of Hafez al-Assad, the father of the current Syrian president. He fled to Cairo recently and most probably he has some good connections in Egypt that allowed him to spend some good time there and eventually to create some future political alliances - with the Brothers, why not. Sure thing is that at least once al-Khatib recommended if not pledged directly for a softer stance towards al-Nusra Front, an al-Qaeda affiliate involved in the fights around Aleppo. Due to such ambiguities, common to many 'revolutionary' movements in the area, the US and their allies refrained to offer openly a military support to any military group. They offered instead a lot of food support and sent organizations to document the human right abuses. On the other end of the world, the club of the former allies of Moscow are working hard to secure their presence in the area, with any possible means.

The fightings and the confusion are continuing in the region.

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