The Obama administration said Wednesday it would push for a major shake-up in Syria’s opposition leadership so that it better represents those dying on the front line, can rally wider support and resist attempts by extremists to hijack the revolution against the Assad regime.
Speaking to reporters in Croatia’s capital, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said the administration was suggesting names and organizations that should feature prominently in any new rebel leadership that emerges from talks starting next week in Doha, the capital of Qatar.
She dismissed the Syrian National Council, a Paris-based group of regime opponents who have lived in exile for decades, saying its leadership days are over, even if it still could play a role. The council was viewed with suspicion by rebels who stayed in Syria and fought the regime of President Bashar Assad.
The shift in policy reflects as much the failure of the SNC to win widespread political legitimacy as the Obama administration’s desire to be seen playing a leading role in shaping an opposition capable of winning the support of frightened Syrian minority groups and replacing Assad.