Socialist Worker

Unease over Syrian National Initiative's links to the West

Issue No. 2328

The launch of a new Syrian umbrella organisation to replace the discredited Syrian National Council (SNC) has created deep uncertainty inside the revolution.

The new body, the Syrian National Initiative (SNI), is headed by veteran opposition figure, Riad Seif.

It will incorporate many of the military councils of the Free Syrian Army, civilian councils headed up by the Local Coordination Committees (LCCs), established opposition figures and parties, as well as Kurdish groups and other minorities.

The formation of the SNI comes in the wake of a growing national disaster after the regime unleashed a ferocious campaign of bombardments. It claims some 200 lives every day.

Large parts of the country are now in ruins, millions have been displaced and many people fear they will not survive the harsh Syrian winter.

Riad Seif has set out what he describes as a blueprint for a transitional government. He wants the new body to fill the vacuum left by the collapse of the regime. And he wants the SNI to speak on behalf of the revolution and to head up efforts to get weapons and humanitarian relief.


However the West and its Arab allies have latched onto the SNI in a move that could see it lose its credibility before it becomes established.

US secretary of state Hillary Clinton pushed for the formation of the new body. This move has drawn angry criticism from the SNC, as well as the opposition movements inside the country.

Clinton demanded the “overhaul” of the Syrian opposition. She fears it has become dominated by Islamists.

It is clear that the West would like to transform the SNI into a more effective version of the discredited SNC. And such a move has been described by the LCCs as “unwelcome”.

While welcoming the formation of a new body, many people on the ground are wary of foreign meddling. This follows the widely perceived failure by the outside world to help the revolution.

It is unclear how effective the SNI will become, or if it will genuinely represent the revolutionary forces. Many of the rebel brigades fighting regime forces want to maintain their independence. They trust only those leaders who emerged out of the revolution.

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Tue 6 Nov 2012, 17:54 GMT
Issue No. 2328
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