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U.S. plan for foes of Assad in peril

| Monday, March 25, 2013, 9:18 p.m.

WASHINGTON — The Obama administration's Syria policy was unraveling on Monday because the Syrian Opposition Coalition and its military command was in turmoil, with the status of its leader uncertain and its newly selected prime minister rejected by the group's military wing.

State Department officials said they still planned to work with the coalition, to which the United States has pledged $60 million, but analysts said the developments were another sign that the Obama administration had no workable Syria policy.

The opposition coalition, in its second incarnation, has been as beset by factionalism as its predecessor, the Syrian National Council, exacerbated this time by the meddling of foreign donors, analysts said. But, they said, the United States has no other entity to back in a war that pits the regime of President Bashar Assad against jihadist-dominated rebels.

“This is it. The U.S. can't reboot it a third time. If they can't make this work, they've got nothing,” said Joshua Landis, the director of the Center for Middle East Studies at the University of Oklahoma.

Opposition Coalition leader Mouaz al-Khatib announced his resignation on Sunday, citing his frustration with unspecified foreign powers. The coalition refused, and Khatib announced he would represent Syria this week at the Arab League.

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