Washington – The Obama administration gave approval Monday for the Syrian opposition to open a formal diplomatic mission in the United States and said it would increase nonlethal assistance to the opposition by $27 million.
The steps announced by the State Department give the Syrian Opposition Council’s offices in Washington and New York formal diplomatic status and boost total U.S. assistance to the opposition to $287 million since the conflict began three years ago. The moves come at a critical time in the conflict as Syrian President Bashar Assad’s government has made recent battlefield gains and is planning presidential elections in June.
The administration recognized the opposition council as the legitimate representative of the Syrian people in December 2012, but its U.S. offices had been recognized only as informal liaison bureaus until Monday.
The Washington office won’t be considered an embassy, or the New York office a consulate, but both are now be considered “foreign diplomatic missions” under U.S. law.
No more Brotherhood, el-Sissi tells media
Cairo – Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, the former military chief who removed Egypt’s Islamist president and who is now poised to win the post in elections this month, said the Muslim Brotherhood will never return as an organization, accusing it of using militant groups as cover to destabilize the country.
El-Sissi spoke in the first TV interview of his campaign, aired Monday, vowing that restoring stability and bringing development were his priorities. The comments were a seemingly unequivocal rejection of any political reconciliation with the Brotherhood, which was Egypt’s most powerful political force until el-Sissi removed President Mohammed Morsi, a member of the group, last summer.
Since ousting Morsi, el-Sissi has been riding an overwhelming media frenzy lauding him as Egypt’s savior, and his status as the country’s strongest figure all but guarantees him a victory in the May 26-27 election. El-Sissi’s only opponent in the race is leftist politician Hamdeen Sabahi, the third-place finisher in the 2012 election won by Morsi.
El-Sissi’s comments were a stark signal of his intention to ensure the elimination of the 86-year-old Brotherhood as both a political and ideological force in the country. He is building on an unprecedented popular resentment of the group, after its rise to power in the last three years.