National Coalition for Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces

The National Coalition for Syrian Revolution and Opposition Forces (Arabic: الائتلاف الوطني لقوى الثورة والمعارضة السورية), commonly named the Syrian National Coalition (SNC) (Arabic: الائتلاف الوطني السوري), is a coalition of opposition groups in the Syrian Civil War that was founded in Doha, Qatar, in November 2012. Former imam of the Umayyad Mosque in Damascus, Moaz al-Khatib, considered a moderate, was elected the president of the coalition, and resigned on 21 April 2013.[5] Riad Seif and Suheir Atassi, both prominent democracy activists and the latter a secular human rights advocate, were elected vice presidents. The post of a third vice president will remain vacant for a Kurdish figure to be elected.[6] Mustafa Sabbagh was elected as the coalition's secretary-general.[7] The coalition has a council of 114 seats, though not all of them are filled.[1]

National Coalition for Syrian Revolution and Opposition Forces
الائتلاف الوطني لقوى الثورة والمعارضة السورية
Formation11 November 2012 (in Doha, Qatar)
PurposeOpposition to and replacement of the Bashar al-Assad government of Syria
HeadquartersIstanbul, Turkey
Region served
Council of about 114 members[1]
Official language
Secretary General
Abdulbaseet Abdullatief[2]
Abdurrahman Mustafa[3]
Vice Presidents
Abdul Basset Hamou[4]
Badr Jamous[4]
Dima Moussa[4]
Parent organization
Syrian opposition
This article is part of a series on the
politics and government of
Syrian opposition

On 31 May 2013, the coalition gave membership to 15 representatives of the Free Syrian Army, allowing direct representation of rebels from Syria in a political group for the first time.[1] On 6 July, the coalition elected new leadership. Ahmad Asi Al-Jarba was elected president and Anas Al-Abdah was elected as secretary general. On 14 September 2013, the National Coalition selected Ahmad Tu'mah as prime minister of an interim government for Syria.[8] On 25 September 2013, some Islamist factions rejected the Syrian National Coalition stating that "All groups formed abroad without having returned to the country do not represent us."[9]

Structure and aims

At its creation in November 2012 the National Coalition elected Moaz al-Khatib as its president, Riad Seif and Suheir Atassi as vice-presidents and Mustafa Sabbagh as secretary-general.[7] The coalition has a council of about 63 members,[10] including 22 members from the Syrian National Council.[7]

On 24 March 2013 Moaz al-Khatib made a surprise announcement that he was stepping down as president of the coalition. Although he gave no reason at the time, he later talked of interference by international and regional actors; the interviewer named these as Qatar and Saudi Arabia.[11] The coalition refused al-Khatib's resignation. Khatib was still considered the "primary voice" of the Syrian opposition, and the following day the Arab League granted Khatib the position to head the coalition's delegation to the Arab League.[12] He continued in office for almost another month before confirming his resignation on 21 April 2013.[5]

The main aims of the National Coalition are replacing the Bashar al-Assad government and "its symbols and pillars of support", "dismantling the security services", unifying and supporting the Free Syrian Army, refusing dialogue and negotiation with the al-Assad government, and "holding accountable those responsible for killing Syrians, destroying [Syria], and displacing [Syrians]".[13]

The Syrian National Council withdrew from the coalition on 20 January 2014 in protest at the decision of the coalition to attend the Geneva talks.[14]

The Syrian National Coalition called the Saudi-led intervention in Yemen "a sound and deterrent step", suggesting it opened the door to a broader intervention against Iranian influence elsewhere in the Arab world. In addition to supporting the Houthis, Iran is a major backer of the Syrian government.[15]

Domestic recognition

The Local Coordination Committees of Syria (LCCSyria) stated that they "[reaffirm their] participation in the National Coalition. The [LCCSyria have] worked hard, and will continue to spare no effort, to ensure the success of the National Coalition in its service to the revolution."[13] The National Coalition is supported by the Free Syrian Army[16] since September 2013 or already earlier.[17]

On 16 November 2012, there were 497 street demonstrations in Syria according to the LCCSyria, including 121 demonstrations in Hama that "expressed support for the National Coalition" and 104 demonstrations in Idlib who called for the National Coalition to "support the revolutionaries".[18]

Following the election of the Coalition's president, several pro-Islamist media outlets have signalled their approvals for the formation of the new revolution bloc under the leadership of Sheikh Moaz Al-Khatib. Answering questions on his students' portal EsinIslam of The Awqaf London the London-based Damascene graduate African Muslim cleric, Sheikh Dr. Abu-Abdullah Abdul-Fattah Adelabu called upon the Islamists and their affiliates to support the coalition's leadership.[19] “The terrible situations in which the Syrians now find themselves do not warrant alienating reliable scholars like Dr. Moaz whatever their positions or affiliations in the face of al-Assad's desperate acts of atrocities and crimes against humanity as a matter of urgency to free Syria”,[20] said Adelabu who was a friend and academic colleague of Dr. Al-Khatib during the 1990s in Damascus Islamic institutions. “We have been assured by members of the Jubhah that Sheikh Moaz is acceptable to them and that the decision to choose him was made by the Syrians themselves and not by the Americans, Britons, French or any other nationals”, the London-based cleric added.[21]

Members of the al-Nusra Front and 13 other armed groups stated in a YouTube video on 19 November 2012 that they "unanimously reject the conspiratorial project called the National Coalition and announce[s] [its] consensus to establish an Islamic state [in Syria]".[16] A day later, commanders of one of those groups, the al-Tawhid Brigade appeared in a video with members of the Aleppo Military Council and Transitional Military Council. They stated that they supported the National Coalition and that the previous day's statement was by "revolutionary forces on the ground" who were not sufficiently represented in the National Coalition.[22] The head of the Free Syrian Army in Aleppo, Abdel Jabbar al-Okaidi, responded to the 19 November statement, saying, "These groups represent a number of military factions on the ground and reflect their position, but not all military forces in Aleppo agree with this. The military council has announced its support for the National Coalition and is collaborating with [it]."[16] Members of the groups listed in the 19 November statement were contacted by Thomson Reuters and stated that "they had nothing to do with the announcement" and that some members of their groups appeared in the video.[23]

On 21 November 2012, the Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD), which controls territory in the north of Syria, rejected the new coalition and criticised it for "obedience to Turkey and Qatar".[24] The Kurdish National Council agreed to join the Syrian National Coalition; the PYD criticized the KNC for doing so.[25]

According to The Economist, as of late September 2013, "In the month since America backed away from missile strikes to punish Syria’s regime for using chemical weapons, the Syrian Opposition Coalition has become increasingly irrelevant."[26]

In October 2013, the Supreme Military Council of the Free Syrian Army, led by Salim Idris, met with Ahmad Jarba, then the president of the SNC. The SMC recognized the National Coalition as the "civil authority" of the Syrian opposition.[27]

In the course of 2015, a rival for representing Syrian opposition emerged in the form of the Syrian Democratic Forces and their political arm, the Syrian Democratic Council, which grew in the context of the Federation of Northern Syria – Rojava.[28]

On 25 April 2018, the al-Mu'tasim Brigade, a FSA group based in the town of Mare', withdraw its recognition of the National Coalition for Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces due to the National Coalition's inability to make national decisions. The group's decision came hours after George Sabra, Suheir Atassi, and Khaled Khoja resigned from the National Coalition.[29]

International recognition

By March 2013, at least twenty states had recognized the SNC as ‘the (sole) legitimate representative of the Syrian people’. However, most of them do not recognize official documents produced by it.

Diplomatic recognition of the National Coalition as the legitimate representative of Syria
Entity Date of recognition Direct terminology
118 Qatar12 November 2012Sole legitimate representative of Syria[30]
118 Saudi Arabia12 November 2012Sole legitimate representative of Syria[30]
118 Yemen (Hadi government)12 November 2012Sole legitimate representative of Syria[30]
19 France13 November 2012Sole representative of the Syrian people and future interim government of democratic Syria[31][32]
20 Turkey15 November 2012Sole legitimate representative of the Syrian people[33]
21 Italy19 November 2012Legitimate representatives of the aspirations of the Syrian people
22 United Kingdom20 November 2012Sole legitimate representative of the Syrian people[34]
23 Spain29 November 2012Sole legitimate representative of the Syrian people[35][36][37]
2425 Denmark9 December 2012The legitimate representative of the Syrian people[38]
2425 Norway9 December 2012The legitimate representative of the Syrian people[39]
2629 Netherlands10 December 2012The legitimate representative of the Syrian people[40]
2629 Germany10 December 2012The legitimate representative of the Syrian people[40]
2629 Belgium10 December 2012The legitimate representative of the Syrian people[40]
2629 Luxembourg10 December 2012The legitimate representative of the Syrian people[40]
30 United States12 December 2012"A" or "The" legitimate representative of the Syrian people[41]
31 Australia13 December 2012The legitimate representative of the Syrian people[42]
32 Malta22 March 2013Sole legal representative of the Syrian people[43]
 European Union19 November 2012"Legitimate representatives of the aspirations of the Syrian people"[44]
 Arab League26 March 2013Arab League membership[45]

Diplomatic representation

As of 17 November 2012, Monzer Makhous was recognised by France as a representative of the National Coalition and as the future Syrian Ambassador "once a provisional government is established and recognised internationally."[46]

On 20 November, UK invited the coalition to appoint a political representative.[47] On 26 November, the National Coalition appointed Walid Safur to be its ambassador to the UK.[48]

On 23 November, Qatar asked the coalition to appoint an ambassador, becoming the first Arab country to publicly announce it will accept an envoy from the new opposition body.[49] The SNCs embassy in Qatar was opened on 27 March 2013.[50]

On May 5, 2014, the Coalition was officially granted diplomatic status with the Washington office formerly recognized as a Foreign Mission in the US. Prior to giving foreign mission status to the Washington Office, the State Department shut down the current Washington Embassy along with several regional consulates.[51]



No. Portrait Name
Took office Left office Political party Note(s)
1 Moaz al-Khatib
11 November 2012 22 April 2013 Independent
George Sabra
22 April 2013 6 July 2013 Syrian National Council Acting President.[52]
2 Ahmad Jarba
6 July 2013 9 July 2014 Syrian National Council Re-elected on 5 January 2014.
3 Hadi al-Bahra
9 July 2014 4 January 2015[53] Independent
4 Khaled Khoja
4 January 2015 5 March 2016 Independent Re-elected on 3 August 2015.[54]
5 Anas al-Abdah
5 March 2016[56] 6 May 2017[57] Syrian National Council
6 Riad Seif
6 May 2017 6 May 2018 Independent
7 Abdurrahman Mustafa
6 May 2018[58] 29 June 2019 Independent
8 Anas al-Abdah
29 June 2019[59] Incumbent Syrian National Council

Syrian Interim Government

At a conference held in Istanbul on 19 March 2013, members of the National Coalition elected Ghassan Hitto as prime minister of an interim government for Syria. Hitto has announced that a technical government will be formed which will be led by between 10 and 12 ministers. The minister of defence is to be chosen by the Free Syrian Army.[60] Jawad Abu Hatab (born 1962) is acting Prime Minister of the Syrian Interim Government from 17 May 2016[61] until 10 March 2019.[62]

Members and representatives

At present, the Syrian National Coalition consists of the Syrian National Council and other opposition groups and revolutionary groups, as listed in the following diagram, third column:[10]

Name Representation Role
1Moaz al-Khatib (Arabic: معاذ الخطيب)[7]Local Council of Damascus
2Riad Seif (Arabic: رياض سيف)[7]National figuresformer Vice President
3Suheir Atassi (Arabic: سهير الأتاسي)[7]Syrian Revolution General Commissionformer Vice President
Head of Humanitarian Support Unit
4Mustafa Sabbagh (Arabic: مصطفى صباغ)[7]Syrian Business ForumSecretary-General
5Haitham al-Maleh (Arabic: هيثم المالح)[10]Council of Syrian Revolutionary TrusteesHead of Legal Committee
6Mouaffaq Nyrabia (Arabic: موفق نيربية)Citizenship MovementIncoming ambassador:  EU and  Benelux:
 The Netherlands
 Luxembourg and Vice President (2016)
7Marwan Hajo (Arabic: مروان حجو)[63]Syrian National CouncilHead of Membership Committee
8Walid al-Bunni (Arabic: وليد البني)[64]National figuresSpokesman
9Monzer Makhous (Arabic: منذر ماخوس)[46]National figuresSpokesman
Incoming ambassador:  France
10Walid Saffour (Arabic: وليد سفور)Syrian Human Rights CommitteeIncoming ambassador:  United Kingdom
11Jaber Zain (Arabic: جابر زعين)[10]Local Coordination Committees
12Ahmad al-Assi al-Jarba (Arabic: احمد العاصي الجربا)[10]Revolutionary Council of Syrian Clans
13Mohammad al-Sabuni (Arabic: محمد الصابوني)[10]Syrian Scholars Association
14Sadiq Jalal al-Azm (Arabic: صادق جلال العظم)[10]Unions of Syrian Authors
15Alhareth al-Nabhan (Arabic: الحارث النبهان)[10]Citizenship Movement
16Bassam Yousef (Arabic: بسام يوسف)[10]Ma'an Alliance
17Yehia Ghiqab (Arabic: يحيى غقاب)[10]Syrian National Democratic bloc
18Khaled Khouja (Arabic: خالد خوجة)[10]Turkmen component
19Ziyad al-Hasan (Arabic: زياد الحسن)[10]Turkmen component
20Hussien Alabdullah (Arabic: حسين العبد الله)[10]Turkmen component
21Abdul Hakim Bashar (Arabic: عبد الحكيم بشار)[10]Kurdish National Council
22Mustafa Auso (Arabic: مصطفى أوسو)[10]Kurdish National Council
23Mohammad Abdo Kiddo (Arabic: محمد عبدو كدو)[10]Kurdish National Council
24Abdelilah Abdelmoeen Fahd (Arabic: عبد الإله عبد المعين فهد)[10]Local Council of Homs
25Mustafa Nawaf al-Ali (Arabic: مصطفى نواف العلي)[10]Local Council of Raqqa
26Jawad Abohatab (Arabic: جواد أبو حطب)[10]Local Council of Rif Dimashq
27Riyad al-Hasan (Arabic: رياض الحسن)[10]Local Council of Deir ez-Zor
28Moussa Mohammad Khalil (Arabic: موسى محمد خليل)[10]Local Council of Quneitra
29Ziyad Ghassan (Arabic: زياد غسان)[10]Local Council of Latakia
30Mohammad Abdelsalam al-Sayed (Arabic: محمد عبد السلام السيد)[10]Local Council of Tartus
31Mohammad Qaddah (Arabic: محمد قداح)[10]Local Council of Daraa
32Adnan Rahmon (Arabic: عدنان رحمون)[10]Local Council of Idlib
33Jalal Khanji (Arabic: جلال خانجي)[10]Local Council of Aleppo
34Salaheddin al-Hamwi (Arabic: صلاح الدين الحموي)[10]Local Council of Hama
35Mohammad Mustafa Mohammad (Arabic: محمد مصطفى محمد)[10]Local Council of al-Hasakah
36Khaled Abu Salah (Arabic: خالد ابو صلاح)[10]National figures
37Yehya Kurdi (Arabic: يحيى كردي)[10]National figures
38Ali Sadreddine Al-Bayanouni (Arabic: علي صدر الدين البيانوني)[10]National figures
39Abdelkarim Bakar (Arabic: عبدالكريم بكار)[10]National figures
40Najib al-Ghadban (Arabic: نجيب الغضبان)[10]National figures
41Tawfiq Dunya (Arabic: توفيق دنيا)[10]National figures
42Ziyad Abu Hamdan (Arabic: زياد ابوحمدان)[10]National figures
43Kamal al-Labwani (Arabic: كمال اللبواني)[10]National figures
44George Sabra (Arabic: جورج صبرة)[10]Syrian National Councilformer Acting President
45Abdulbaset Sieda (Arabic: عبد الباسط سيدا)[10]Syrian National Council
46Mohammed Farouk Tayfour (Arabic: محمد فاروق طيفور)[10]Syrian National Council
47Burhan Ghalioun (Arabic: برهان غليون)[10]Syrian National Council
48Nazir al-Hakim (Arabic: نذير الحكيم)[10]Syrian National Council
49Samir Nashar (Arabic: سمير نشار)[10]Syrian National Council
50Ahmad Ramadan (Arabic: أحمد رمضان)[10]Syrian National Council
51Jamal al-Wared (Arabic: جمال الورد)[10]Syrian National Council
52Hussein al-Sayed (Arabic: حسين السيد)[10]Syrian National Council
53Khaled al-Saleh (Arabic: خالد صالح)[10]Syrian National CouncilHead of Media Committee
54Hisham Marwa (Arabic: هشام مروة)[10]Syrian National CouncilMember of the Executive office
55Abdulahad Astepho (Arabic: عبد الأحد اصطيفو)[10]Syrian National Council
56Salem al-Meslat (Arabic: سالم المسلط)[10]Syrian National Council
57Bassam Isaac (Arabic: بسام إسحاق)[10]Syrian National Council
58Mouti al-Batin (Arabic: مطيع البطين)[10]Syrian National Council
59Khaled al-Naser (Arabic: خالد الناصر)[10]Syrian National Council
60Mohammad Sarmini (Arabic: محمد سرميني)[10]Syrian National Council
61Louay Safi (Arabic: لؤي صافي)[10]Syrian National Council
62Mohammad Khedr Wali (Arabic: محمد خضر ولي)[10]Syrian National Council
63Hanan al-Balkhi (Arabic: حنان البلخي)[10]Syrian National Council
64Wasel al-Shamali (Arabic: واصل الشمالي)[10]Syrian National Council

See also


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Further reading

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