Syria opposition lacks solidarity

AFP reports: Syria’s opposition was in disarray Wednesday, struggling to present a united front in the face of a protest crackdown whose death toll rose again despite the presence of Arab League monitors.

Western powers have repeatedly called for the Syrian opposition to put aside differences and join forces in their bid to oust President Bashar al-Assad and his autocratic regime after more than nine months of bloody violence.

Stepping up its involvement, the United States sent Jeffrey Feltman, the assistant secretary of state for Near East Affairs, to Cairo overnight for consultations with the Arab League about Syria.

Democracy activists have denounced the 22-member Arab bloc over the “unprofessionalism” of a team of peace observers whose presence in Syria since last week has failed to stem the bloodshed.

Making matters worse, a pact that two of Syria’s main opposition factions — the Syrian National Council (SNC) and National Coordination Body for Democratic Change in Syria (NCB) — agreed last week now appears to be in tatters.

The political agreement signed Friday in Cairo had outlined a “transitional period” should Assad’s regime be toppled by a pro-democracy uprising that erupted in March.

However, in a posting on its Facebook page, the Syrian National Council said late Tuesday that the “document conflicts with the SNC’s political programme and with the demands of the Syrian revolution.”

Widely regarded as the most inclusive of Syria’s opposition alliances, with representation from both the Muslim Brotherhood and parties drawn from the Christian and Kurdish minorities, the SNC has been at odds with some activists over the extent of foreign intervention required to bring change.

There was still no response to the statement from the NCB, an umbrella group of Arab nationalists, socialists, independents and Marxists which also comprises Kurds and is staunchly opposed to any foreign military intervention.

Michel Kilo, a prominent Syrian dissident who has been linked to the SNC, said the opposition grouping “considers itself the only representative of the Syrian population.”

“It refuses to accept the existence of other opposition forces and rejects the formation of a committee to lead the common work of the different opposition groups”, he added in remarks published Tuesday in France’s L’Humanite newspaper.

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