Syria’s opposition National Coalition has yet again failed to form a provisional government or come to an agreement on the position of prime minister.
Meeting in Istanbul, the group’s latest stumble highlights an eerie echo of the coalition’s repeated criticism of the international community: You’re not doing enough for us.
The exact same sentiment is now being felt by anti-regime Syrians, whether they are civilian activists, rebel fighters, or the general population, as they wonder about the direction in which the National Coalition is headed.
Out of respect for the thousands of people who have lost their lives, loved ones, homes and possessions, or sustained horrific injuries during the last 22 months, it is simply time for the coalition to get its act together.
People inside Syria have already made popular their term for the opposition politicians outside the country: “the hotel revolutionaries” who spend their time traveling from city to city and attending conference after conference, with little to nothing for show for it.
But in fact the coalition has not been idle – it has secured official recognition from dozens of countries, increasing the disappointment with its latest failure.
On the one hand, the exiled opposition has been reluctant to take the step of forming a provisional government. Its leaders have said they fear making such an announcement, and then being left in the lurch if foreign help fails to materialize. Meanwhile, media reports indicate that the groups making up the coalition, mainly the Muslim Brotherhood, fear that their influence will wane if a provisional government is agreed to, without “their” people being named to the body.
Instead, they should realize that during the few months of the National Coalition’s existence, it has failed to inspire average Syrians. Some of its members might be adept at making appearances in the media, but people are not waiting for more spokespeople – they are waiting for leaders.
The National Coalition must set aside its differences and show that they can overcome political divisions among the ranks of the opposition, or else acknowledge that their title – “coalition” – means nothing unless they are able to be inclusive.
The opposition has long accused the U.N. and the international community of not acting forcefully with the regime in Damascus, giving it the time to carry out its brutal repression against the Syrian people.
By not moving forward, the National Coalition is doing the same thing, namely giving President Bashar Assad and his inner circle the ideal excuse to continue with their campaign against “terrorists,” i.e. armed rebels, who obviously can’t rely on the exiled opposition for meaningful help.
It is time to shoulder one’s responsibilities, or step aside and give an opportunity to someone else who can.