Beirut/Washington: Mr Walid Saffour, the opposition’s official envoy to London, said the refusal of Barack Obama’s administration to intervene in the two-year Syrian civil war was “humiliating to the Syrian people”.
“The British and French stance [on Syria] is better and more advanced. It is better than the US which refuses to take action,” Mr Saffour told The Daily Telegraph.
Britain, along with France, has in recent months launched a concerted effort to breathe life back into the ineffective, political opposition, the Syrian National Coalition.
David Cameron has secured a relaxing of a European Union arms embargo on the country to allow non-lethal aid such as body armour and armoured vehicles to be given to Syrian rebels.
French and British ministers have made clear they are prepared to directly arm rebels if the bloody stalemate between pro and anti regime forces does not end soon.
British and American public positions towards Syria have remained broadly similar, with neither advocating “boots on the ground” intervention and both sharing a concern about weaponry falling into the hands of anti-western jihadist groups.
Britain, said Mr Saffour, is however much more active in “helping” the Syrian opposition.
“Britain wants to help. It has the inclination to help and this comes from the Prime Minister,” said Mr Saffour.
Britain and France have not yet accepted the demands of the National Coalition that a no-fly zone be imposed on northern Syria, but “they are gradually coming around to being convinced by our requests,” said Mr Saffour.
The Telegraph understands that Britain is also one the countries present in an “operation room” in Turkey that tries to manage the flow of weapons into Syria, steering them towards the Supreme Military Council, the military wing of the National Coalition.
Mr Saffour said the US needed to take the lead in supporting the rebel opposition.
He went so far as to condemn US political efforts in Syria as “damaging”. The policy to define the jihadist group Jabhat al-Nusra “terrorists” was a tactical error which only served to alienate the US further from the situation on the ground, and would have done the same for the National Coalition had they adopted the stance.
“The Americans asked us to classify them as terrorists, they were angry when Mr Khatib [the NC leader] said we couldn’t call those who are serving to free Syria terrorists,” said Mr Saffour.
A report in the US said that the White House seriously misjudged Mr Assad’s ability to cling to power, and believed he was likely to be killed.
As Mr Obama and his advisers weighed the decision to intervene in the conflict, they took false hope that Mr Assad would be assassinated and that his death would bring an end to the fighting, according to the Wall Street Journal.
US officials were encouraged by a series of bombings in Damascus last summer that killed senior figures in the Syrian government.
Despite advice to the contrary from senior aides, Mr Obama has only taken halting steps to help provide training, equipment and intelligence to moderate rebel fighters.
The White House has been blamed for allowing Qatar to manage and shape the political opposition into a Muslim Brotherhood-led, Islamist entity.
A well-placed Syrian source who advises Western governments, said: “There has been little in terms of political leadership from the Americans. There have been few real efforts to shape a political opposition body.”
“This disenfranchises huge parts of the population who don’t want to leave Bashar al-Assad when there is no alternative but an Islamist government. This, a total fear of the alternative is what keeps the regime in power. As long as an Islamist state is the only alternative, then the regime will stay in power.”
He added that the US are only ones with the “muscle” to strong-arm Qatar into backing a more secular and representative political opposition.
“The US President needs to pick up the phone and tell Qatar to accept 25 well respected secular opposition figures that represent Alawites and Christians and Druze and all of Syria’s other minority groups. It is that simple, but they are not doing it. There is no political leadership”.