“Friends of Syria”, consisting of the US, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, the UAE and 70 other countries, gathered in Istanbul today. They recognized the Syrian National Council, the umbrella opposition group in exile, as the representative of the Syrian people and announced their support of rebel fighters known as the Free Syrian Army in their fight to oust the regime of Bashar al-Assad. Arab nations pledged $100 million and the US agreed to send communications equipment to help the Free Syrian Army organize and evade Syria’s military.
Turkish prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the host of Sunday’s meeting, called on the United Nations Security Council to act in the wake of the failure of Kofi Annan’s mission to Damascus. Erdogan said the Syrian government was using Annan’s initiative to buy time.
“If the Security Council hesitates, there will be no option left except to support the legitimate right of the Syrian people to defend themselves,” Erdogan said. “They are not alone… They will never be alone.”
Burhan Ghalioun, the president of the Syrian National Council, a confederation of Syrian opposition in exile, addressed hundreds of world leaders and other officials at the Istanbul conference and urged them to support the Free Syrian Army. “This is high noon for action,” Ghalioun told the world leaders.
Sources: The New York Times / AFP