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US backs new Syrian opposition council in bid to unite rebels

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"This can not be an opposition represented by people who have many good attributes but have, in many instances, not been in Syria for 20, 30, 40 years," said Clinton. "There has to be a representation of those who are on the front lines fighting and dying today to obtain their freedom."

Foreign Policy's blog The Cable reported Tuesday that such a reshuffle of the opposition by the US has been in the works for months, as both the SNC and the US have grown increasingly frustrated with the other – the former at the dearth of support offered by Washington, the latter at the SNC's inability to attract broader support from Syrians, including Alawite and Kurdish minorities. The US hopes that a new council will coalesce at a meeting of dozens of Syrian leaders next week in Doha, Qatar

"We call it a proto-parliament. One could also think of it as a continental congress," a senior administration official told The Cable. ...

"We have to get [the internal opposition] to bless the new political leadership structure they're setting up and not only do we have to get them to bless the structure, but they have to get the names on it," the official said, noting that the exact structure of the council will be determined in Qatar, not before.

"We need to be clear: This is what the Americans support, and if you want to work with us you are going to work with this plan and you're going to do this now," the official said. "We aren't going to waste any more time. The situation is worsening. We need to do this now."

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