Beirut, Asharq Al-Awsat – As splits within the Syrian National Council [SNC] emerge, a senior source within the Syrian opposition informed Asharq Al-Awsat that the SNC and the Free Syrian Army [FSA] had signed a “comprehensive” agreement uniting the military and political ranks of the Syrian opposition. This agreement was negotiated by Turkey, and aims to “unify the efforts being exerted to overthrow the Syrian regime.” This comes as three prominent Syrian opposition figures, Catherine el-Telli, Haitham el-Maleh and Kamal al-Labwani, announced their resignation from the SNC, citing “disagreements”, although it is unclear at this time whether these resignations were related to the SNC – FSA agreement.
The Syrian opposition source refused to divulge the precise manner in which this agreement was made, but revealed that a “coordination office” had been established between the SNC and FSA, and its mission is to support the FSA politically within the region.
The source also told Asharq Al-Awsat that several countries, including Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and Turkey, have expressed their readiness to do whatever is needed to arm the FSA. He stressed that this “comprehensive” agreement should remove all reservations about arming the Syrian revolution.
Intensive meetings were held between the SNC and the FSA earlier this week, which saw FSA commander Colonel Riad al-Asaad meeting with members of the SNC Executive Committee. This meeting ended with the signing of a memorandum of understanding between the two parties defining the relationship between the SNC and the FSA, and drawing up a political and military plan through which the SNC vowed to support the FSA politically, while the former members of the Syrian army pledged to support the FSA militarily. Both sides also committed to coordinating on all other issues and subjects.
For his part, following his meeting with UN – Arab League Envoy Kofi Annan in Ankara, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Erdogan announced that his country will host the forthcoming “Friends of Syria” meeting on 2 April to discuss means of pressuring the al-Assad regime to halting the violence that is taking place in the country.
Turkish sources revealed that Annan had briefed the Turkish prime minister on his “impressions” of his meetings with the Damascus administration, stressing that the “humanitarian situation” in the country is extremely bad.
Kofi Annan’s office in Geneva issued a statement on Wednesday revealing that “the Joint Special Envoy (JSE) for Syria, Kofi Anna, has now received a response from the Syrian authorities. The JSE has questions and is seeking answers. But given the grave and tragic situation on the ground, everyone must realize that time of the essence. As he [Annan] said in the region, the crisis cannot be allowed to drag on.”