US To Recognize Syrian Opposition

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will not attend the meeting due to a stomach virus.

The US has decided to officially recognize Syrian opposition group the Friends of Syria as the legitimate voice of the Syrian people, a move that will allow American aid to flow more easily to the organization.

The official announcement will be made during a December 12 meeting of the group in Morocco, reports Foreign Policy’s The Cable.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will not be able to attend the meeting due to a stomach virus. Instead, Deputy Secretary Bill Burns will represent the United States in making the formal announcement.

Deputy Secretary William Burns

During a public event last week, Burns said the balance of power on the ground in Syria is clearly moving away from the Assad government and the Obama administration is looking for ways to “help speed the genuine transition of power.”

Several countries, including France and Turkey, have already recognized the National Coalition Forces of the Syrian Revolution. The United States has also recognized the opposition group, calling it “a legitimate representative” of the Syrian people.

Mustafa Sabbagh, secretary general of the group, said he thinks the U.S. will recognize his council as the legitimate representative of the Syrian people in Morocco.

“We do expect from the USA a similar recognition,” he said. “I did not hear that there were any conditions set by the USA for this recognition.”

UPDATE (12.11.2012): President Obama announced the formal recognition of the Syrian Opposition Coalition during an interview with Barbara Walters Tuesday night. The president also not that “There are some who, I think, have adopted an extremist agenda, an anti-U.S. agenda, and we are going to make clear to distinguish between those elements.”

President Obama specifically named the group Jabhat al-Nusrah, which the State Department has claimed is responsible for nearly 600 violent attacks in major Syrian cities in the past year, for its alleged affiliation with Al Qaeda in Iraq.

The Obama administration blacklisted Jabhat al-Nusrah as a terrorist group on Monday.