Text size:

  • Small
  • Normal
  • Large

Unified Syrian opposition only path to peace

The Syrian National Coalition for Opposition and Revolutionary Forces has hard work ahead of it. But unity is the best hope for stability in a fragile Syria.

On Sunday, Syria's opposition and revolutionary forces announced in Doha the formation of a national coalition. The unity body, which represents the majority of opposition forces and is open to the rest, will now have a key role in ending a crisis that has killed tens of thousands.

Israel's firing across the Syrian border into the Golan Heights on Sunday, the first such salvo in nearly 40 years, was a reminder of how regionally explosive the situation in Syria could yet become. Which is precisely why any movement towards stability, however incremental, must be welcomed.

To be sure, the new body - the Syrian National Coalition for Opposition and Revolutionary Forces - has hard work ahead of it. Its selection of a former preacher from Damascus, Moaz Al Khatib, is a positive start. Mr Khatib is widely-known as a moderate figure who preached and has written extensively about sectarian coexistence, and against vigilantism and revenge. His two deputies are also well-known former political prisoners, with the possibility of electing a third deputy who is a Kurd.

The formation of the council was been welcomed by a diverse group of opposition voices, from minorities and Sunnis alike. But the coalition is still fragile and could disintegrate if it does not receive sufficient support from Syrians, as well as from the international community. Its formation was championed by the US, Qatar and others, and initially opposed by those who monopolised power through the stagnated Syrian National Council. Its members must now be made to work together.

The survival of the coalition will hinge on its ability to achieve where the SNC failed. Securing financial and military support for fighters on the ground will help the coalition gain legitimacy. Yet such support will only come if the new body can convince outside powers it can be a viable alternative to the Assad regime. The SNC acted as a council of leaders without a mandate from the people they claimed to represent. The SNC members were also based outside Syria, complicating unity efforts.

The new coalition's leaders say several countries had pledged financial and military support if the opposition unified. This will take time. What cannot wait, however, is a better coordinated relief effort between those Syrians inside and outside the country. A failure to use its financial resources to aid Syrians displaced was one of the SNC's principle failings. Building on past mistakes without alienating others is the only way to push the Assads aside.

Back to the top

More articles

Editor's Picks

 An tenant in the Al Barsha area of Dubai has been sent a non-renewable contract by the landlord. Randi Sokoloff / The National

Dubai landlord refuses to pay back Rera fees after losing rent case

Keren Bobker helps a tenant who wants to know how to reclaim his RERA case fees and who has also been sent a contract with a “one-year nonrenewable” note.

 A Brabus Mercedes 6x6 Sports Utility Vehicle is readied for display during Auto China 2014 in Beijing, on April 20. Adrian Bradshaw / EPA

In pictures: Auto China 2014 exhibition

Leading automakers have gathered in Beijing for the kickoff of China’s biggest car show, but lacklustre growth and environmental restrictions in the world’s largest car market have thrown uncertainty into the mix. More than 1,100 vehicles are being showcased.

 A customer looks at a large mock-up of videogame console Game Boy.  Yoshikazu Tsuno / AFP Photo

Nintendo’s Game Boy at 25: hand-held legacy lives on

Nintendo’s trailblazing Game Boy marks its 25th anniversary Monday with the portable device’s legacy living on in cutting-edge smartphone games and among legions of nostalgic fans.

 Luis Suarez became the first Liverpool player to score 30 Premier League goals in a season since Ian Rush in 1987. Stefan Wermuth / Reuters

Sterling and Suarez inspire Liverpool to win over Norwich City

The win takes the Premier League table-toppers to 80 points from 35 games.

 A projectionist takes a break in the projection room at Ariana Cinema in Kabul, Afghanistan. Going to the movies, once banned under the Taliban, has become a popular form of entertainment in Kabul, but women and children rarely take part. All photos by Photo by Jonathan Saruk / Reportage by Getty Images

Afghan cinema: Forbidden Reel

The lights go down and the projector whirls into action as Sher Mohammed, 35, begins his routine, bouncing back and forth between two projectors, winding reels, and adjusting the carbon arc lamps inside the projectors.

 Business class seats inside the Emirates Airbus A380. Chip East / Reuters

In it for the long haul: flying 16 hours with Emirates to LA

Our executive travel reviewer tries out the business class offering on Emirates' longest A380 route - and finds time passing quickly.


To add your event to The National listings, click here

Get the most from The National