By Valerie Stocker.
Tripoli, 5 November:
The Syrian National Council says it has received over $20 million in aid from Libya since it was founded in October 2011. It makes Libya its most important donor by far. These figures were released against the background of increasing pressure on the SNC to marginalise extremist elements within its ranks.
In a detailed financial report published on Thursday, 1 November, the SNC states that total foreign donations have reached $40.4 million, half of which was given by Libya and the other half by Qatar and the United Arab Emirates. In more precise figures, $20.4 million originated from Libya, followed by $15 million from Qatar and $5 million from the UAE. The money was said to have been deposited in two bank accounts in Qatar and Turkey.
Regarding the use of foreign donations, the report states that of the $29.7 million spent so far, 89 percent went to relief efforts both inside Syria and abroad – including via “revolutionary movements and military councils” – while the rest was used to cover administrative expenses and communications support.
Full details (in Arabic) are available on the SNC’s website www.syriancouncil.org.
Having officially recognized the SNC as Syria’s legitimate government in October 2011, the Libyan authorities unveiled several aid packages – both material and financial – destined to the Syrian opposition in the course of 2012. In parallel, a large number of Libyan fighters have fought alongside with armed opposition groups on Syrian territory and considerable amounts of weapons from Libya are said to have been channeled to these groups.
The publishing of these figures coincides with news of the United States allegedly withdrawing its support to the SNC which, it fears, is not doing enough to stem the influence of radical Islamists within the Syrian opposition.
As the Washington Post reported on Thursday, the Obama administration has been working towards building an alternative opposition leadership in order to win the support of minority groups who are still backing the Syrian regime. A day earlier, US Secretary of State Hillary Cinton had publicly stated that the SNC should no longer be considered the “visible leader” of the Syrian opposition.