But the new coalition may face some of the same organizational problems that the Syrian National Council did. Syrian emigres do not have well-formed political parties, no surprise after four decades of a police state dictatorship, and the only group that appears able to develop a political strategy is the Muslim Brotherhood.
A second problem is the political constellation under which the new coalition was formed public pressure from the United States, which is widely criticized by Syrians in and out of the country for giving plenty of advice but having done little to arm the rebels.
The new group also must determine how to incorporate the original Syrian National Council into its operation. The council this past week restructured itself and elected a Christian, George Sabra, as its president. Sabra immediately called for the international community to arm the rebels. We need arms. We need arms. We need arms, Sabra said, a distinctly more vigorous presentation than Khatibs on Sunday night.
The government of Qatar, which hosted both the councils organizational talks and the discussions that led to the creation of the Syrian National Coalition, invited both groups to stay in Doha until Nov. 25 in order to figure out how to meld their organizations.
Additionally, U.S. officials also may face difficulty rationalizing Khatibs positions with U.S. policy. Western diplomats said Khatib has been a critic of twin accords agreed to in Cairo last July that Riad Seif was instrumental in drafting that specify that a post-Assad Syria should be secular in nature. Khatib has been critical of the documents because they make no reference to Islamic Shariah law.
Jones statement made clear that the U.S. government will not accept changes in the Cairo documents. The basis of our cooperation remains the National Compact and the Transition plan announced in Cairo last July, as well as respect for human rights protections and equal treatment for all Syrian citizens, the statement said.
Asked by e-mail whether she had made the statement out of concern for Khatibs previous positions, Jones spokesman said he had no comment.