Friends of Syria still hesitant

Turkish PM Erdogan speaks at Friends of Syria meeting, Istanbul. Photo: Turkish Foreign Ministry

By Emile Hokayem, Senior Fellow for Regional Security, IISS-Middle East

Representatives of more than 80 countries gathered in Istanbul this weekend to demonstrate their support for the Syrian opposition. The Turkish prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan (above), a former ally of Bashar al-Assad turned vehement critic, delivered a thunderous speech warning Assad to step down; Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states announced they would set up a fund to pay the salaries of the Free Syrian Army, the loose network of rebels; US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton unveiled new measures including humanitarian assistance, non-lethal aid to Syrian rebels and the establishment of a Syria Accountability Clearinghouse to document human-rights abuses ahead of criminal prosecution of Assad officials. Meanwhile, to bolster its international cachet, the main Syrian opposition umbrella group was offered an opportunity to address delegates and present its new platform.

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