After the Gulf War, during 10 years of Saddam Hussein rule, Turkey and the United States argued over the Iraqi “opposition.” The US was organizing it, and Turkey was perennially complaining about that it included the Kurds.
Exactly the opposite has happened in the Syrian civil war. Ankara moved fast and became the center of the opposition, while Washington did not miss an opportunity to criticize the opposition as incompetent and ineffective.
Finally, the US is moving in and setting up a new structure for the Syrian opposition as an alternative to the Syrian National Council (SNC), which was set up in Istanbul and has since been in Turkey’s sphere of influence.
Some activists from Syria, intellectuals such as Riad Saif, Mohammad Imadi and Michel Kilo — and Kurds who had stayed away from the SNC — will be in the new structure expected to be announced at a Qatar meeting on Nov. 3.
Foreign Policy magazine reported that the new model Washington has been working on for a while finally took shape in a secret New York meeting between US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and the opposition in September.
Bulgaria also played a silent but essential role in setting up the new structure.
Does all this bother Ankara? Is the new structure the product of jealousy? No, to the contrary — Ankara has been a part of the new project from the beginning.
A senior official said Ankara supports the new opposition structure and has been active in its creation. Although the new structure is not “made in Ankara,” as was the SNC, groups such as the Muslim Brotherhood and the Damascus Declaration, which are in the new organization, are close to Turkey.
Moreover, political figures who had refused to join the SNC but will be in the new structure have connections to Ankara.
Senior Ankara officials say Turkey wants an orderly transition for the post-Assad period and to that end will do everything possible to ensure a well-organized and action-ready armed or unarmed opposition.
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