Will Clinton support Riyad Seif’s Interim Government?

Hillary Clinton, U.S. Secretary of State, “has buried the Syrian National Council following her support for a new interim government project to be led by Riyad Seif, a former Member of the Syrian Parliament”, according to a council member.

The same source said that Robert Ford, the former Syrian Ambassador (also a former Iraq ambassador), has been objecting to the SNC’s performance since May this year. Ford’s problem with the SNC was their boycott of the cancelled Cairo conference early Summer (their boycott led to the cancellation). In July, another Cairo conference for the Syrian opposition ended with a much needed common agenda, but the SNC campaigned against it, rejecting any participation in a follow-up committee. The Cairo conference’s final paper/document secures wider participation, and details the transitional period (a much needed step amid all the current chaos). The SNC’s two main blocs, Riyad al-Turk’s People’s party and the Moslem Brotherhood want to lead the transition themselves, the member says.

According to the same source, Riyad Seif met Ford, and came out with a new plan for a 8 November meeting following the SNC’s Doha conference on Sunday (4-6 November). Seif’s conference wants an interim government, which is to include 15 SNC members, 12 from Local councils, and is poised to receive Saudi – Qatari funding.

Riyad Seif is currently a member in the SNC’s executive committee, but he refuses to give this umbrella group exclusive representation of the Syrian opposition. The State Department supports Seif’s more inclusive approach; he is inviting Michel Kilo, the Syrian opposition figure to the 8th November Doha conference.

Ambassador Ford has been active in organizing the opposition. “He does not miss a single meeting”, according to the same source who seemed surprised at his attendance record.

While this SNC member sounds dramatic, as the group will continue regardless of the interim government, it does seem that the U.S. is looking for another umbrella group to serve as a safe channel for the growing GCC’s financial support to the Syrian opposition. The current modus vivendi of Syrian conferences and new umbrella groups is “follow the money”. You want a new umbrella group, you’ve got it, just show me the money!

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