Syria criticize “Friends of Syria” Group

Syrian media, analysts and opponents have accused the “Friends of Syria” group of contributing to the principle of power monopoly and aiming to undermine the mission of UN and Arab League envoy Kofi Annan.

Launching trenchant criticism against the group, the al-Baath daily, mouthpiece of the Syrian government, editorialized that the conference is simply a “regional and international scramble to search for ways to kill more Syrians … with the aim to jump over the mission of Annan.”

Representatives from scores of countries attended the second “Friends of Syria” conference in Istanbul on Sunday, recognizing the opposition Syrian National Council (SNC) as a legitimate representative of all Syrians and an umbrella organization for Syrian opposition groups.

Syrian analysts and observers of all political parties lambasted the decision to recognize the SNC as the representative of the Syrian people, saying the decision is a devotion to the principle of power monopoly.

They said the recognition was reminiscent of the principle of totalitarian rule, which runs counter to the foundations of democracy advocated by Western countries.

Rajaa Naser, an opposition figure, told Xinhua that “the SNC is only a representative of its followers and it can’t be a representative of the Syrian people,” stressing that such a decision will not meet the aspirations of the Syrians.

Naser suggested that the only way out of the crisis is to immediately halt violence in compliance with the initiative put forward by UN and AL envoy Annan.

Annan’s initiative calls for an end to violence in Syria by all parties, a proposal for a cease-fire initiated by the Syrian government, a daily halt in fighting for the delivery of humanitarian aid and treatment for the wounded, as well as talks between the government and opposition.

Syria has officially approved the plan but refused to pull troops from restive cities until peace and stability are restored in these areas.

Hamdi Abdullah, a pro-government analyst, said the recognition by the superpowers runs contrary to democracy.

“It’s impermissible for Arab and foreign countries to meet outside the Syrian territory, and decide to legitimize representatives on behalf of the Syrian people,” Abdullah said.

At the conference, the attendees vowed to render all possible assistance, both technical advice and direct support, to a Syria-led political process that is peaceful, orderly and stable. They also agreed to continue and increase, as a matter of urgency, its assistance, including funding and financial support, to meet the needs of the Syrian people.

Annan and Catherine Ashton, high representative of the European Union (EU) for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, did not attend the meeting.

Russia and China, which vetoed a Security Council resolution calling on Damascus to end the violence, also did not participate, while Iran and other countries which voted against a UN General Assembly resolution were not invited to the meeting.

At the meeting, Washington pledged to offer another 12 million U.S. dollars in humanitarian aid for displaced and vulnerable Syrian communities, bringing the total amount of U.S. assistance to Syria to nearly 25 million dollars.

Meanwhile, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton criticized Syrian President Bashar al-Assad for not acting on Annan’s peace plan, and urged him to implement his promises as soon as possible.

Clinton said she was waiting for Annan’s report to the UN Security Council on Monday on the status of his peace plan.

Annan will brief the UN Security Council on Monday on his efforts to calm the year-long conflict in Syria, in which the “armed terrorist groups” has killed more than 2,000 army and security personnel during the unrest, according to the Syrian government. The UN said more than 9,000 people have died in the violence.

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