Syria opposition: New leader, old challenges

08-07-2013

 

Will a newly elected head bring a unifying leadership to the Syrian opposition?

The Syrian opposition has wrapped up its meetings in the Turkish city of Istanbul with a new president for the Syrian National Coalition, Ahmad Asi al-Jarba.

After no candidate got beyond 50 percent of the first vote, al-Jarba, a former political prisoner, won a runoff.

The president’s post had been empty since April when former SNC President Mouaz al-Khatib resigned, citing frustration over what he called a lack of international support and constraints imposed on the body itself.

The organisation’s lack of unity has made Western and Arab backers reluctant to supply more advanced weapons to the opposition fighters.

The new leader will need to present a united front for Syria’s opposition, and bring under control armed groups operating inside the country.

He will also be tasked with finding a strategy for possible peace talks that the US and Russia have been trying to convene in Geneva.

The Syrian regime is taking advantage of division in the opposition as pro-Assad forces step up their campaign against rebels in towns and cities like Homs.

On the battlefield, the fighting remains as fierce as ever. For almost a week now, government forces have pounded the city of Homs in an offensive to solidify government control.

The United Nation’s High Commissioner for Human Rights says between 2,500 and 4,000 civilians are trapped in areas of Homs where the fighting is most intense.

With Russia and Western nations disagreeing over how to help, a divided UN Security Council again failed to approve a statement calling on the Syrian government to allow immediate access.

Rebels in Homs are still in control of some of the neighbourhoods, but the government controls the rest of Syria’s third largest city.

 

Source: Aljazeera

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