US Secretary of State John Kerry is on an 11-day European tour that began Monday with a visit to the UK. On Thursday, he and UK Foreign Secretary William Hague will, with other leaders, attend a meeting in Rome to discuss the Syrian crisis.
Representatives of the Syrian opposition were invited to attend, but initially vowed they would not do so, boycotting to protest against what they view as the “silence of the world.”
Within the last couple of hours, however, they have changed their mind.
According to a report in the Guardian, the leader of the opposition National Coalition, Moaz al-Khatib, has persuaded his partners to attend a Friends of Syria meeting in Rome on Thursday. This change is due to a promise of increased aid to the Syrian rebels.
Kerry reportedly called al-Khatib by phone and promising that by the time they meet in Rome, new American support would be on the table. If Khatib and his partners attend, Kerry has said other help will be discussed at the meeting.
Hague said, "An appalling injustice is being done to the people of Syria, which the world cannot ignore. That is why in the United Kingdom, we believe we must significantly increase our support for the Syrian opposition, on top of our large contributions to the humanitarian relief effort, and we are preparing to do just that.
"In the face of such murder and threat of instability, our policy cannot remain static as the weeks go by, and it is an important opportunity in Rome on Thursday to discuss this with our allies and partners."
Kerry’s European trip was always going to be about Syria, war, money, weapons, aid and the military. Take your pick which he wants and from whom. With Mali and North Korea up for discussion, European leaders face tough talks. Europe is in the economic doldrums, with little money for matters at home let alone elsewhere. Will Americans, Britons and Europeans want to commit financially to the civil war of Syria?
There is no doubt that ordinary people in Syria are hurting, but replacing President Bashar al-Assad with “more of the same” should not be an option. After such a long and bitter struggle, surely the people deserve the chance of a better future.
Don’t kid yourself that Kerry, Hague and others are simply acting because there is a huge humanitarian crisis in Syria. That is not their real concern. It could be given as a reason for any action that is forthcoming, but their main aim is to rid Syria of Assad and weaken links to Russia in the Middle East.
Whilst world leaders procrastinate about Syria, and act selectively, people will continue to die. The Syrian people need decisive action but they need to know their future will not be in the hands of extremists.
Just who are the Syrian opposition? You tell me.