Syrian-opposition-split


title: 'Syrian opposition split' published: true publish_date: '31-08-2016 14:56' taxonomy: category:

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    In Syria, a considerable split within the opposition has emerged only weeks before peace talks in Geneva. The Revolutionary Movement in Syria issued a sharply worded statement that the country's opposition coalition had failed to represent the Syrian revolution. VoR's Tom Spender reports. Dysfunctional and not fulfilling obligations In a strongly-worded statement, four major rebel groups say the National Coalition for Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces is “dysfunctional” and not fulfilling its obligations. Observers say tensions between the rebels fighting on the ground and the Coalition, which is based abroad, have been building for some time. The Coalition met in Istanbul this week, but was unable to agree on who should represent it at a Syria peace conference organised by Russia and the US and due to be held in Geneva in June. Jonathan Steele is a Middle East commentator for the Guardian newspaper: “The Assad government has said in principle it will attend and send their representatives. “We haven’t yet had a clear statement from the opposition, so it’s very embarrassing for the West – the US and Britain in particular – who have been pushing the idea of a conference. “It’s not quite clear how sincere they are but at least they have been pushing for it, and yet the principal people they are supporting, the rebels, may not turn up. “And this latest thing shows just how unrepresentative these opposition people are.” During the Coalition’s negotiations in Istanbul, members backed by Qatar and the Muslim Brotherhood organisation blocked western-backed attempts to appoint 22 new liberal members. The rebels say the Coalition is exposed to "blatant interference of international and regional parties without respect to the national will." The rebels also say they want 50 per cent of the seats in the Coalition. Jonathan Steele again: “In Istanbul over the last few days the opposition has been trying to work out who would represent them and what they would say, indeed they haven’t yet decided finally whether they will attend the conference. So it’s been very difficult for Western diplomats and I think a lot of this EU arms embargo issue that has been dominating the headlines in the past few days – Britain and France wanting to be able to send arms to the rebels – is a diversion to take away the spotlight from the fact that the opposition is so divided.” Danny Makki is a Syrian political activist in the UK. He says the Coalition is disintegrating. “Opposition groups are fighting internally on a day-to-day basis and taking legitimacy away from each other while the regime is growing in power, regaining territory and essentially calling the shots on the ground. “This has led the Syrian opposition to a crossroads where they either have to unite in one unique and miraculous way which I really don’t think will happen as the fracturing and fragmentations are too deep, or the Syrian government will really establish authority and regain legitimacy from the states which took it away from them.” Coalition still supported But Malik al Abdeh, a Syrian journalist in the UK, believes the Coalition will continue to be recognised and supported by much of the international community: “Countries like the UK, France and the US find it very convenient to deal with the Syrian National Coalition simply because physically they are in places like Istanbul, Cairo and Doha, they speak English and they claim to represent the Syrian people. “And of course they are supportive of by and large the Western agenda to topple Bashar al Assad. “That’s a completely different question to whether they actually represent the revolution on the ground. “The overwhelming evidence is that people on the ground who are carrying out the revolution, whether it’s the Free Syrian Army or activists inside the country, have very little contact with the Coalition and most of the time they don’t actually know what the Coalition is doing.” However, the discord among the opposition is dampening expectations for next month’s Geneva peace conference. Michael Stephens is a research associate with the Royal United Services Institute in Qatar: “From Bashar’s side, why would you enter into the negotiations in good faith anyway, knowing that the Syrian opposition sitting in front of you does not speak for the vast majority of people you are fighting against. “Who are you going to talk to that’s going to be able to deliver a comprehensive agreement across Syria. “If the Americans and the Russians can put enough diplomatic pressure on their respective allies, we may be able to get some framework for discussion moving forward, but I’m not convinced at this point that it can be a success.” Russia and Israel at odds Meanwhile, Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov today described a US-backed draft resolution condemning the Syrian government in the UN Human Rights Council as “odious” and said it ran counter to the interests of the peace conference. Israel has continued to attack Russia's decision to deliver its S300 surface-to-air defence system to Syria, saying the missiles would be capable of hitting the main international airport at Tel Aviv. VoR's Brendan Cole spoke to David Horowitz, who is the editor of the Times of Israel. Download

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