Obama says US not ready to recognize or arm newly formed Syrian opposition group
By Associated Press, Published: November 14
WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama said Wednesday he’s encouraged that the Syrian opposition has formed a new, more representative leadership council, but the U.S., unlike some other countries, isn’t ready to recognize the group as a “government in exile” or to arm it…
Obama said the U.S. needed more time and wanted to make sure that the group “is committed to a democratic Syria, an inclusive Syria, a moderate Syria.” He also said the U.S. isn’t considering sending weapons to the opposition because of concerns the arms might fall into the hands of extremists.
“We have seen extremist elements insinuate themselves into the opposition and one of the things that we have to be on guard about, particularly when we start talking about arming opposition figures, is that we are not indirectly putting arms in the hands of folks that would do Americans harms, or do Israeli harm or otherwise engage in actions that are detrimental to our national security,” he said.
The new leader of Syria’s opposition has a history of statements that are anti-Semitic, outrageous, and sometimes downright bizarre.
BY MOHANAD HAGE ALI | NOVEMBER 14, 2012
Khatib’s animosity toward the West is similarly evident in his writing. In one article, written in 2011, the new coalition leader speaks of “stupid American, cunning British, and malignant French diplomacy.” He also accuses Western powers of propping up the old Egyptian regime and working to weaken the country for their own ends. “The collapse of the Egyptian regime is the beginning of the international regional system’s descent,” he writes. “The collapse of Egypt itself is an enormous Israeli desire [emanating] from its frightening project to split the region into repugnant sectarian entities.”
The new Syrian opposition leader doesn’t hesitate to stoke Muslims’ fears of persecution at the hands of the West. He posted on his website a flamboyant Dutch Radio report on the imminent ethnic cleansing of Europe’s Muslim minorities, based on statements by right-wing European figures and Rached Ghannouchi, the leader of the Tunisia’s Islamist Al-Nahda party, which is now a major partner in the country’s coalition government.
Khatib is also a fan of Qatar-based Egyptian televangelist cleric Yusuf al-Qaradawi. His website places Qaradawi on equal footing with Tunisia’s Mohamed Bouazizi, whose self-immolation set off the Arab revolutions, and praised the Egyptian preacher as “our great Imam.” Qaradawi is a controversial figure who has been denied entry to France and Britain for his support of suicide bombings — he has described such attacks, when used against Israel civilians, as “evidence of God’s justice.” Given Qaradawi’s Qatari connections, Khatib’s praise of the cleric may be an indication of where his loyalties lie.