The main opposition group in Syria has opened its first Embassy in Qatar on Wednesday in what Reuters news service described as a “diplomatic blow” to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
The move comes on the heels of another significant diplomatic maneuver. The Arab League seated the Syrian National Council (SNC) as the legitimate government of Syria at a summit this week in Doha, Qatar.
“There is an international willingness for the revolution not to triumph,” SNC leader Moaz Al-Khatib said at a ribbon cutting ceremony for the new Embassy. Khatib resigned as the group’s leader this week — but is reportedly staying on as a “caretaker” — saying he preferred to “work with freedom that cannot be provided within official institutions.”
Khatib also told Reuters that he was surprised the U.S. rejected his recent request for Patriot missile batteries to protect rebel-held areas from Syrian military air power. “I’m scared that this will be a message to the Syrian regime telling it ‘Do what you want’,” he said.
NATO head Anders Fogh Rasmussen on Wednesday called for a political solution to the civil war in Syria. “We don’t have any intention to intervene militarily in Syria,” he said.
Meanwhile, the L.A. Times reported on Tuesday that “Western officials also responded with little enthusiasm to Khatib’s suggestion that the fractious opposition group be seated at the United Nations as the legal representative of Syria.”