News / USA

Syrian Opposition Disputes Prevent Decision on Peace Talks

Louay al-Safi, spokesman for the Syrian National Coalition (L), speaks during a news conference in Istanbul May 26, 2013.
Louay al-Safi, spokesman for the Syrian National Coalition (L), speaks during a news conference in Istanbul May 26, 2013.
VOA News
Syria's main opposition coalition has held an unscheduled fourth day of meetings in Istanbul (Turkey) as internal disputes prevent it from deciding whether to join a U.S. and Russian-backed peace conference with Damascus.

Syrian National Coalition members on Sunday said the main dispute concerns whether to grant Saudi Arabia a bigger role in the group, by expanding its membership to include Saudi-backed opposition figures such as veteran dissident Michel Kilo. They said the Qatar-backed Muslim Brotherhood faction of the coalition is resisting such an expansion.

Qatar has exerted a greater influence over the Syrian opposition coalition to date, by acting as a chief contributor of money and weapons to rebels fighting a two-year rebellion against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Syrian opposition sources said that if the coalition can agree on an expanded membership, it also must decide the fate of its prime minister Ghassan Hitto, who has not been able to form a provisional government for Syria. They said resolving the leadership and membership issues would allow the coalition to respond formally to the U.S. and Russian plan for a Syrian peace conference in Geneva next month.

Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moualem said Sunday his government has agreed "in principle" to attend the proposed conference, calling it "a good opportunity to resolve the Syrian crisis."

Washington and Moscow have said they want the Assad government and the opposition to negotiate the formation of a transitional government that would lead Syria out of its civil war, which has killed more than 80,000 people.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov are due to meet in Paris Monday to discuss how to move forward with the peace conference.

Syrian government forces have been fighting to recapture the strategic rebel town of Qusair in recent days in an apparent bid to strengthen Mr. Assad's position ahead of peace talks.

An amateur video posted to the Internet Sunday showed a purported Syrian government air strike on Qusair. The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said fighting in Qusair killed at least 27 rebels and three civilians on Saturday.

Syrian troops backed by Lebanese Hezbollah militants have unleashed heavy artillery and tank fire on the Sunni Muslim town near the Lebanese border. Qusair's capture would mark a significant victory for Mr. Assad because it is located along a highway linking Damascus to the Mediterranean coast, a stronghold of his minority Alawite sect.

Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.

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by: Naseer Ahmad from: Kabul
May 29, 2013 12:57 AM
Two years ago Syria was a peaceful country. most people in the Islamic countries think that why such a devastating war begun in the Syria and who support and benefit this war. Bashar doesnt know what he is doing. He lets Syria to be devastated and its resorces be lost. At the end there will be a destroied country with a tired, damaged and needy people. If the government and rebel know that they are misusing and they are heading wrong direction they can rescue there country.


by: MUSTAFA from: INDIA
May 27, 2013 2:01 AM
This is very sad situation. I have mentioned in my previous comments that opposition main target to capture power and then enjoy their life with the blessing of west. They do not have brain to think how to solve Syrian problems. They are just united because of backing of west with DOLLAR and weapons to change regime and that is all. Do yo think this is not terrorism, because this is supported by west so this is not terrorism, this is freedom fight for POOR SYRIAN PEOPLES.Just to obtain our personal goals we did this drama and not for syrian peoples this is very sad story.

History will record all these acts and all these MAIN characters will remain in hell because MY GOD knows the true story behind this big drame for more then three years. MY GOD will not make any mistake in judgement and he will give award according to our acts in this world.Can we live without water and electricity.........BIG NO. This opposition who is holding this conference in complete ac hotel with complete security can imagine problem of syrian peoples never ever. They are working on west agenda to destroy syria completely and then they will start with IRAN. Because IRAN never take dictation like SAUDI ARABIA, QATAR,UAE, BAHRAIN,KUWAIT and so many ideal puppel govt to serve west interest in their region.

In Response

by: Julian Leonard from: Manchester UK
May 27, 2013 8:03 AM
Trust me, most people in the West do not want involvement in Syria. They did not want involvement in Iraq or Libya. Even the minority that do are simply making that decision based on an uncritical acceptance of the simplistic good versus bad rhetoric of populist politicians and mainstream media. There is no democratic mechanism here in the West by which changes in our disgraceful and murderous foreign policy can be changed. The only issues upon which we seem to be able to vote upon every four or five years is the colour of the tie our next bunch of dictators wear!

Democracy is a sham here, hijacked by those made powerful by an economic system in which there is no negative feedback function so, the rich simply get more rich, more powerful, and increasingly able to increasingly distort the law and decision-making process for their own benefit. They get away with it because they are much more devious, mendacious and sophisticated in their control than the Disneyesque puppets like Hussein and Assad they create to make war with.

I'm not a believer in God myself but, if I were I'd believe in the Devil too and, I'd suspect we're living in a world in which money and power has led to it being ruled and run by devils and, that being the case, I could only hope you're right and, in some other spiritual dimension, these truly inhuman people are judged and punished accordingly.


by: JKF from: Ottawa, Canada
May 26, 2013 8:31 PM
The continued inability of the opposition to unite, just shows that they lack credibility. While they are looking after their own selfish standing, thousands of Syrians are dying. If after 80,000 dead, mostly massacred Sunni civilians, by Assad's big weapons, this opposition can't get its political act together, one can only classify them as a bunch of uncaring people, that do not understand, nor have the most rudimentary, or most basic leadership attributes. One can only feel great pity, for the poor civilians, in Syria, that they have such bad luck, not just because of the civil war, but because of such poor quality leaders. In reality, only a negotiated settlement, starting with a ceasefire, may bring the terrible civil war to an end soon; the alternative is a continuation of the bloodshed and suffering. This failure to have a credible political leadership, to address the US/Russia peace initiative, is going to cost further support for the opposition's end objectives. Very sad situation for Syrian civilians.


by: Julian Leonard from: Manchester UK
May 26, 2013 8:01 PM
Last month, sympathisers of these Syrian 'rebels' detonated a bomb in Boston killing and maiming many innocent people.

Two weeks ago I see verified footage of 'rebel' commander Abu Sakkar cutting out and eating the very heart from a dead Syrian soldier.

Last week I see two Islamist militants, sympathetic to 'Rebel' groups in Syria, kill -then butcher- a young man in the daylit London street.

Now I read that these same 'Rebel' factions are so divided that they can't even manage agreement to ATTEND talks!

And that this ragtag, motley collection of unknowns which include spivs, terrorists, cut-throats and war-criminals are being supported, armed and given the opportunity to control an entire sovereign nation on the very borders of Europe makes me wonder for the sanity of the politicians we have given the authority to 'lead' us.


by: Don wv from: US
May 26, 2013 7:15 PM
Syrian rebels will never join any peace plan! As a peace plan would give the Syrian people a vote and a voice. The rebels (aka terrorist) wants a dictator like in Egypt!

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