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Syrian opposition's division casts doubt on success of Geneva talks

English.news.cn   2014-01-25 19:45:38

DAMASCUS, Jan. 25 (Xinhua) -- As the actual dialogue between the Syrian government and the oppositional Syrian National Coalition (SNC) will start on Saturday in Switzerland for the first time since the prolonged crisis erupts three years ago, bitter divisions between different opposition factions dimmed the outcome of the peace talks.

During the prolonged crisis, despite some defections at the beginning of the crisis, Syrian President Bassar al-Assad's inner circle still remained strong and well-connected.

On the other hand, the opposition of Syria, mainly the SNC, which is largely made up of exiles and enjoyed the Western support, has so far failed to prove coherent as it has been hobbled by internal rifts and divisions.

The Syrian opposition could be categorized into several factions; the exiled opposition groups, namely the Syrian National Council and the Syrian National Coalition, both born in Turkey by the help of the West. The majority of their members are Syrian exiles, who want the downfall of Assad as a prelude to any political process.

Also there are the domestically-based opposition parties, mainly the National Coordination Body (NCB) and other recently- established groups, which share more moderate approach, deeming the dialogue with the government crucial to any political end to Syria's crisis and that the destiny of Assad could be determined through elections.

Aside from the political opposition parties, there are tens of rebel groups on ground ranging from moderate to ultra-radical groups, supported by regional and international parties.

Analysts and Syrian officials said recently that the Syrian government is capable of ordering the army troops to halt military operations, but questioned the opposition's ability to do the same with the rebels.

The major rebel groups on ground are the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), the Nusra Front, and the Islamic Front. The ISIL and the Nusra Front are al-Qaida-linked groups. Their sway stretches from Iraq into Syria and recently poured into Lebanon. Their goal is to establish an Islamic state in Syria.

The Islamic Front, meanwhile, is comprised of six powerful Islamic groups that project themselves as moderates, but also eye an Islamic state out of Syria's war.

The three groups have recently been engaged in infighting against one another as part of the conflict of interests and sway- related issues, according to analysts.

Activist reports said more than 2,000 people have been killed over the past 20 days as a result of the rebel-on-rebel battles, mainly in the northern province of Aleppo.

The jihadist groups, despite their infighting, have repeatedly said they are not interested in any political solution and rejected the Geneva II conference and the political opposition alike.

Yet, the superpowers have ostensibly exerted tremendous efforts to bring the SNC, which the West said represents the Syrian opposition, and the Syrian government to the negotiation table.

The SNC's representation to other opposition groups has been put into question, as the domestically-based groups demanded equal representation and said the coalition doesn't represent them. Moreover, the Syrian National Council, which was part of the coalition bloc, withdrew from the coalition ahead of the Geneva II conference because the council simply rejects the dialogue with the Syrian government.

Hassan Abdul-Azim, a left-wing activist and the general coordinator of the NCB in Syria, said that the top priority in Geneva should be correcting the mistake of the opposition's representation in the conference in order to reach favorable outcome.

He told Xinhua that 70 percent of the Syrian opposition is not present in the meeting "and this in itself poses an insurmountable obstacle that impedes the success of the conference."

Nahla Essa, a professor at the Media Faculty in the Damascus University, said that the delegation of the Syrian opposition was "so weak amid the absence of the internal Syrian opposition."

"It's a lame delegation," she told Xinhua.

Analysts say the opposition and the government has a long way to go on the political process, adding that both parties must make compromises in order to yield any fruits for the Geneva II conference.

Editor: Yang Yi
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