Anthony Shadid reports: The death of Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi reverberated across Syria on Friday, reviving protests that had begun to stall and focusing attention on a newly organized, unarmed opposition group seeking to challenge the Assad family’s four decades of rule.
With an ordinary name and ambitious task, the Syrian National Council, announced in Istanbul this month, has begun trying to emulate the success of Libya’s opposition leadership, closing ranks in the most concerted attempt yet to forge an alternative to President Bashar al-Assad and courting international support that proved so crucial in Libya.
“The focus of the world will now turn to Syria,” Samir Nachar, an activist from Aleppo and leader of the group, said Friday. “It’s Syria’s turn to receive attention.”
But the challenges before this effort remain vast, many of them the same issues that have beset the uprising in Syria since it began seven months ago. A gulf still separates the opposition in exile and at home, and rivalries and ideological disputes compromise their work. As important, Europe and the United States have proven reluctant to give the council the recognition that they quickly provided the opposition in Libya.
Perhaps most challenging is a debate that has overshadowed many of its discussions — what kind of international intervention it will seek, as unlikely as the prospect may be now, in trying to end Mr. Assad’s rule. Not even activists these days believe that protests alone, however big, are enough to topple the government.
“Libya’s model will be tempting,” said Louay Hussein, a prominent opposition figure in Damascus, the capital, though a critic of the council itself.
Protests erupted across Syria on Friday, and at least anecdotally, activists called them bigger than in past weeks, and just as bloody. Security forces killed at least 24 people. Colonel Qaddafi’s death offered a bloody lesson in an autocrat’s fate, and became a theme on Facebook pages, Twitter and in the demonstrations themselves. “Qaddafi is gone, your turn is coming, Bashar,” one banner read.