World / Middle East

Syrians urged to take lead

By Li Xiaokun (China Daily) Updated: 2012-11-15 01:43

It should be up to the Syrian people themselves to decide the future of their war-torn country, a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman said on Wednesday.

The spokesman, Hong Lei, made the remarks at a daily news conference when asked about some countries' recognition of Syria's newly formed opposition coalition, the Syrian National Coalition for Opposition and Revolutionary Forces. Tho coalition was formed on Sunday in Doha, Qatar.

Syrians urged to take lead

Syrian rebels take position during clashes with government forces in Al-Amariya district of the northern city of Aleppo on Tuesday. JAVIER MANZANO / AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

Though the opposition league has collected some international support, Chinese experts said they are not optimistic about its role in solving the Syrian issue as it has too many factions supported by too many countries with various interests.

"The future and fate of Syria should be decided by its own people. A political interim process led by the Syrian people should start soon, to realize a fair, peaceful and appropriate solution of the Syrian issue," Hong said.

"China would like to maintain contact and communication with all relevant parties in Syria in that regard," Hong said.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on the same day announced an extra $30 million in humanitarian aid to Syria after attending an annual summit that also included US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and their Australian counterparts.

She called the formation of a new coalition in Syria an important step that would help Washington better target its help.

France on Tuesday became the first Western country to formally recognize the opposition coalition as the sole legitimate representative of the Syrian people.

The US also recognized the leadership body as a legitimate representative, but stopped short of describing it as a sole representative.

Six Gulf states have reportedly recognized the opposition coalition as the country's "legitimate representative". The 22-member Arab League later recognized the group as the "legitimate representative" of Syria's opposition.

Syria's opposition had been deeply divided for months. The new coalition includes opposition groups outside of Syria as well as activists inside the country and rebel commanders.

The formation of the coalition, after more than a week of meetings in Doha, "could boost efforts to secure international backing — and possibly weapons — that will be needed to oust (Syrian) President Bashar al-Assad", The Associated Press reported.

According to an agreement reached by the exiled opposition parties, once the new coalition wins international recognition, it will form an interim government in exile and call for a national conference if the current Syrian administration is ousted.

However, Hua Liming, former Chinese ambassador to Iran and the United Arab Emirates, said he is not optimistic about the role of the new Syrian opposition league in solving the unrest.

"There are too many factions in the opposition, supported by too many countries driven by different interests. So at the moment it is still very hard for the opposition factions to speak in one voice," Hua said.

The only way to settle the Syrian issue, according to Hua, is to keep foreign countries from interfering and let the Syrian people make the decision.

"The tragedy of the Syrian issue, and the reason why it cannot be settled after such a long time, is that the Syrian people have no power over their own fate," he said.

As for Washington's stance on the opposition coalition, Dong Manyuan, vice-president of the China Institute of International Studies, said the Obama administration is worried that Syria will become a seedbed for terrorism and fundamentalism, instead of a pro-West democratic country, if the administration of Assad is overthrown.

"But Washington has not stop providing all kinds of support to the Syrian opposition and expects the newly formed opposition league to finally build up a shadow Cabinet," he said.

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