Following a similar move by the U.S. nearly two weeks ago, the U.K. Thursday announced it was upgrading the status of the Syrian National Coalition’s offices in London, labeling them a “mission.”
But what does this even mean? British Foreign Secretary William Hague said it was “in recognition of the strength of our partnership” with the Coalition. So, little more than semantics, really.
At a time when the ground offensive is as fierce as ever, with some 100 deaths a day in Syria, the opposition inside Syria needs tangible support, not just diplomatic dances which contribute nothing to how events are playing out.
As Coalition chief Ahmad Jarba brought up in Washington last week, the rebels urgently need anti-aircraft weapons. Otherwise the aerial campaigns by Assad’s forces will continue as more and more missiles enter Syria. Currently, the rebels, and indeed the civilians, are entirely defenseless against the barrel bombs and missiles which wreak such destruction and bloodshed across Syria. And all this is going on while President Bashar Assad campaigns for the presidential polls he is virtually guaranteed to win, a further slap in the face to the opposition and its allies, should they need one.
London’s diplomatic upgrade was announced at a so-called “Friends of Syria” meeting. But with friends like these, does Syria even need to worry about the regime it is fighting? Syria needs friends who are prepared to make the necessary decisions, however hard they may be, to help the rebels actually win this war before the country is entirely destroyed.
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on May 17, 2014, on page 7.