The Syrian city of Aleppo has suffered bombardment as the
government attempts to quell the Western-backed insurgency
Scottish news: Syria - West drives legitimacy for insurgent coalition
by Christine Orr
Britain joined its neighbour France this week in recognising the National Coalition of Syrian Revolutionary and Oppositional forces as the “sole legitimate representative of the Syrian people”.
This recognition is important for the coalition as it attempts to build its legitimacy on the international stage and so qualify for more aid from its Western sponsors. However the move is also an irreversible de-recognition of President Bashar al-Assad’s current government.
- Trump’s case of wind farm ‘financial suicide’ dismissed
- Convicted prisoners will not get referendum vote
- New poll shows dramatic swing to SNP for Westminster election
- Scottish parliament arrests of Gaza protesters
Britain has to this point been critical of Assad but has not fully supported the opposition due to the high number of extremist forces fighting in Syria’s insurgents. Supporting the new coalition is seen as a way to try and ensure these forces do not take power.
UK Foreign Secretary William Hague told parliament, "It is strongly in the interests of Syria of the wider region and of the United Kingdom that we support them and deny space to extremist groups."
Hague also stated that further aid will be assigned to Syria through the coalition in order to assist those civilians in opposition held areas. This £1mn will include communications support and a stabilisation response team to help meet the basic needs of those who will be in Syria throughout winter.
In regards to supplying weapons Hague said, “We will not rule out any option in accordance with international law that might save innocent lives in Syria and prevent the destabilisation of a region that remains critical to the security of the United Kingdom and the peace of the whole world.”
The EU met this week and twenty-seven foreign ministers decided to recognise the coalition as the legitimate representative of the “aspirations” of the Syrian people. This part endorsement was not what the international community was expecting but what the EU currently feels “comfortable” with.
They have also agreed to boost humanitarian aid with winter fast approaching and a shortage of food affecting refugees mostly still in Syrian camps.
Coalition may not hold
However, in a blow to the national coalition of Syria, Islamist groups fighting on the ground have stated that they do not accept the coalition as having power over them.
In a video posted online, two of the most influential groups, the Al-Nusra Front and Liwa al-Towhid, rejected the new coalition arguing that they desire Syria to be an Islamist state in the future.
"We, the fighting squads of Aleppo city and province, unanimously reject the conspiratorial project called the National Coalition and announce our consensus to establish an Islamic state" in Syria, a spokesman announced in the video
This development could bring consequences, both in terms of securing arms from international powers and in territorial control in Syria as these groups hold some key areas. It has also been estimated that there is roughly ten thousand such combatants currently in the country making it extremely difficult to claim legitimacy without their support.
NATO met this week to discuss Turkey’s plea for Patriot missiles to be placed on its borders with Syria. The increased militarization across Turkey’s border points will add to the tension between the two countries and spark fears that the conflict could spread across the region.
Turkey is claiming the missile systems would be used for defensive purposes as a large number of refugees are camping across the border and being fired at by Syrian forces.
Only Germany, Netherlands and the US are NATO states with the missiles systems. Germany has informed its representative to support the plea however both the Netherlands and the US have not decided yet.
NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said, “Such a deployment would augment Turkey's air defence capabilities to defend the population and territory of Turkey, It would contribute to the de-escalation of the crisis along NATO's south-eastern border.”
Opposition forces on the ground have captured an important military base in Syria this week.
Base 46, outside of Aleppo, is an army garrison along the Turkish border. One of the fighters claimed that its capture is “one of our biggest victories since the start of the revolution”.
Its capture is another step towards the opposition forces claiming legitimacy in Syria. Recent fighting has seen Syrian forces pushed back from the area despite their more advanced and superior weapons.
Areas in Damascus were bombed from aircraft this week in an attempt to drive out rebel forces and allow the Syrian military to claim back these areas.
The same occurred in Aleppo but opposition forces continue to fight back slowly claiming control over more of these cities and therefore Syria.
The conflict started in March 2011 and since then it has claimed the lives of roughly thirty-eight thousand Syrians and creating hundreds of thousands of refugees staying in neighbouring countries such as Lebanon, Turkey, Jordan and Iraq.
Support Our INDEPENDENCE REFERENDUM APPEAL