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Syria’s new opposition leader expects more from the U.S.

November 14th, 2012
05:44 PM ET

By Samuel Burke, CNN

The newly elected leader of the Syrian opposition, cleric Sheikh Ahmed Moaz al-Khatib, is optimistic after President Barack Obama’s statements about Syria on Wednesday.

The popular Sunni cleric, known for his moderate views, was elected head of Syria’s new opposition group this weekend in Doha. Khatib was jailed four times during the uprising for criticizing the Syrian regime.

In a press conference Wednesday, President Obama said he was encouraged to see the Syrian opposition organizing under an umbrella group and considers them a “legitimate representative of the aspirations of the Syrian people,” but said he is not prepared to recognize the group as “some sort of government in exile.”

Despite the fact President Obama stopped short of full recognition of the new opposition coalition  Khatib told CNN’s Hala Gorani, “It is a good step initially and really I appreciate it. This decision and all the people wait for more because the international society for about two years didn’t do anything for Syria’s [people] while the regime killed and slaughtered them.” 

Syria planes pound targets near Turkey

President Obama said that U.S. envoys are going to be traveling to the region to hold talks with both the international community and Khatib’s opposition group.

But he said that he would not directly arm the rebels because “extremist elements” have inserted them in the opposition, and he does not want weapons to get in the hands of groups who would do Americans or Israelis harm.

When Gorani asked Khatib if he was frustrated by a lack of arms support he simply replied, “No, because people in Syria they have nothing [more] to lose.”

While Khatib says he sees the reelection of President Obama as positive, he says Syria needs more help.

“We expect, of the U.S., more support.”

France's long and complicated history with Syria

CNN’s Claire Calzonetti produced this piece for television.


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soundoff (8 Responses)
  1. Anonymouse

    I think that President Obama is right.

    In a democracy, the government members are chosen by the people or via an assembly elected by the people.

    November 14, 2012 at 7:11 pm | Reply
  2. palmcornr

    إلى الأخ معاذ الخطيب: البارحة مساءاً كان لك لقاء مع السي إن إن. المذيعة (هلا غوراني و التي هي أمريكية من أصل حلبي) وجهت إليك سؤالاً و كانت تنتظر كلمة منك تعبر فيها عن خيبة أملك تجاه الموقف الأمريكي.. كانت تريد أن تسمع منك كلمة disappointed ولكنك على يبدو و للأسف لم تفهم ما يرمي إليه سؤالها فقلت عكس ما كانت تريده و هذا أظهرك على الشاشة بشكل لم أرغب برؤيتك به .. المذيعة للمرة الثانية قالتها لك بصراحة ألم يكن ذلك مخيباً للآمال ولكنك قلت لها للمرة الثانية لا فظهرت بشكل غير مدرك لما تقوله.. و الله أنا أشد على يدك و أؤيدك و أحب لك الخير و لكن إن لم تكن تستطيع التكلم بالانكليزية بطلاقة الأمريكان أو الانكليز فأنا أشير عليك أن لا تجري مقابلات إلا مع الترجمة العربية الفورية لأن ظهور المقاومين السوريين بالشكل الذي ظهرت فيه البارحة غير جيد.. نريدهم أقوياء و يتكلمون بلغة الأمريكان و الانكليز كما يتكلمونها و بحيث تعطي المعنى المراد أما أن نتكلم بلغة عربية مترجمة إلى الانكليزية فهذا و الله لا يقبله أحد منا.. لا نريد أن نظهر أمام الشاشة أغبياء أو لدينا عدم فهم بما يقال أو ما يقصد منه.

    November 15, 2012 at 9:18 am | Reply
    • محبو أ.معاذ

      السلام عليكم، نشكر لك ملاحظتك ... وقد وصلت...

      November 15, 2012 at 9:39 am | Reply
  3. Mzaza

    The fake leaders of Syria should remember who they represent, they are backed by people who are even worse than the Baath party, who at least represent a unified Arab nation without religion and sectarian differences.

    November 17, 2012 at 1:09 pm | Reply
  4. Hera Athena B. Escarsa

    To President Assad of Syria,
    You may not know me, may not know our culture or what beliefs we have, but I'm sure that you know what your people want. All they wanted is peace and freedom which is something you can give to them, something they deserve. I may not have a right to say this, but I am asking you to step down Mr. President. The people of Syria have spoken. For many years, people around the globe are fighting for their freedom and Syrians are one of them. For the welfare of their children, and their children's children. Is it that hard to sacrifice your position for the sake of your own people knowing that many of them sacrificed their own lives? They are more than willing to do this for their freedom. But you have failed them. You failed your own people. You failed your homeland. You failed as a President. You failed as a leader. Do you want to be remembered like this? Do you want your grandchildren to read something negative about you when they reach school? Do not add to the burden of your people. Don't let the children, the workers, the elders or the civilians die in vain. STEP DOWN.
    Hera Athena Escarsa, 1SCL
    University of Santo Tomas, Philippines
    heraescarsa@yahoo.com

    November 20, 2012 at 8:43 am | Reply
  5. Charmaine Sibunga

    To President Assad of Syria,
    For many years, people around the world are fighting for their freedom and Syrians are one of them. The people of Syria deserves someone better. A leader that would lead his people to economic growth, promote peace and order through national security. A leader should not do anything that would hurt his people just to secure your personal interest so I demand you to step down to your position. Do you want to see your people to suffer and experience poverty? You do not know what you are doing, you do not know what you are talking about. If you truly love your country and that you care for your people, you would not allow this things to happen in your country.If you feel the world is against you, maybe its better to listen to the complaints and show them you are capable of becoming a man that people can love. Please have mercy on your people. I wrote this not just because of my duty as a human being to secure human rights but as a fellow human being who has seen so much blood and injustice.

    SIBUNGA, Charmaine M. 1POL3
    University of Santo Tomas, Philippines
    charmaine_sibunga@yahoo.com.ph

    November 21, 2012 at 8:23 am | Reply
  6. Karla L. Casal

    "We want to ask with all our hearts for the president to step down to his position,
    Because Syria People are already suffering more and please stop the war for them
    to regain freedom from your four decade of leadership.

    Karla L. Casal
    2BES2
    University of Santo Tomas

    December 9, 2012 at 10:26 am | Reply
  7. sami sabagh

    Mr Al khatib and his party are not struggling for syria, they are struggling to implement shariaa and defend a helpless god that can`t defend himself . the syrian people comes second , they will find a better life in heaven if they die for the cause of the moslem brotherhood

    January 21, 2013 at 7:11 pm | Reply

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