It seems the new Syrian coalition is having a huge success and is making strides in what has already been called the “Doha Process”. The UK has been the ninth country to grant the group full recognition, together with the Gulf States, Turkey, France and Italy. Other international actors have stopped short of recognising the group as a Government in-waiting or the sole representative of the Syrian opposition: that has been the stance chosen by both the EU and the United States. Qatar, France and the UK have even asked the opposition to appoint an ambassador to the country, a perfect first step towards an enhanced representation throughout the world.
Why some authorities have doubts when it comes to give the final push to the body? First of all, probably because it is still too soon: recognition comes hand in hand with responsibilities, and the group hasn’t still achieved anything near of coordinated military action. The new authorities have been accused of being too distant from the real fighters, and thus of ultimately be actually based outside of Syria. This sort of Government in exile in the offing has to show it is able to really represent Syria within Syria, that is to say, to show it is able to improve and manage its relations with the rebels on the front lines.
They also have to represent the views all regions and all groups, particularly of all minorities. That seems not the be the case of the Allawite community (Assad himself is an Allawite and most members of this group have been direly persecuted and fear further reprisals in case of an overthrow), even though 5% of seats in the body have been set aside for representatives of the Allawites. That also seems not to be the case of the Kurdish community, which however are taking advantage of the conflict to fulfill their dream of greater autonomy in the new scenario that will arise after Assad is toppled. Indeed, several forces decided not participate in the Doha conference, such as the National Conference to Save Syria, the Syrian Democratic Platform and the Kurdish National Council, among others. Indeed, the Coalition is driven by sectarian interests, better represents sectarian interests of its foreign supports (notably Sunni countries vs Shias) than it does actual Syrians, while it alienates other minority groups, and that does further encourage the “Lebanization” of Syria. Minorities are logically fearful of a Syrian state under a Muslim Brotherhood or Salafist regime backed by conservative Arab Gulf states. The possibility of a Turkey-lead transition, for its part, keep Kurds away from the Syrian opposition.
Another issue is “haunting” the international community in this respect: what can be done to respect the “Geneva communique” (a key document signed by all permanent members of the Security Council back in June, whereby the new opposition should include elements of the current regime, figures that however cannot have blood in their hands)?