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Syrian rebels finally recognized as legitimate authority

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
December 12th, 2012
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

The U.S. government has recognized the Syrian opposition coalition to be the "legitimate representative" of the nation, according to President Obama on Tuesday. In a sense, the declaration now makes Assad and his henchmen the rebel element and brings legitimacy to the opposition. Other nations are likely to follow suit.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Speaking on ABC News, Obama said in an interview, "We've made a decision that the Syrian opposition coalition is now inclusive enough, is reflective and representative enough of the Syrian population that we consider them the legitimate representative of the Syrian people in opposition to the Assad regime."

According to ABC News, the proclamation allows the U.S. to deal with the opposition as the representatives of the Syrian people, but Obama has stopped short of saying he will arm them.

Interestingly, the opposition has already benefited from an influx of arms, and has scored several high-profile victories against pro-Assad forces in recent days, even shooting down several aircraft with shoulder-launched surface-to-air missiles.

Officially, the U.S. government is not arming the rebels because according to the president, there are factions within the coalition that are considered extremists and may even be allied with al Qaeda.

Obama said, "Not everybody who's participating on the ground in fighting Assad are people who we are comfortable with. 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."

Some opposition groups have even resorted to suicide bombings in civilian areas to strike at Assad and his supporters, attacks which the U.S. government condemns. There are legitimate fears that al Qaeda in Iraq may be trying to hijack the rebellion.

However, a successful hijack is unlikely, since many Syrians are more secular in their values and lifestyle than in many other Islamic countries.

The U.S. has also made clear to the opposition that these extremists elements cannot play a part in Syria's political future is U.S. support is to be assured after the end of Assad.

The President's public statement is expected to be the first of many similar declarations as other leaders around the world join the U.S. in recognizing the opposition.

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