Syria opposition has power struggles of its own

The Los Angeles Times reports: As Syrian opposition leaders threw punches at one another early this month in a five-star Cairo hotel, rebel fighters in Idlib province spent hours trying to fight off tanks, armored vehicles and attack helicopters with little more than Kalashnikov rifles.

By nightfall, as the rebels fled shelling that reportedly killed dozens, conference members continued to fight over post-revolution plans.

The conference scuffle laid bare power struggles among Syrians seeking the overthrow of President Bashar Assad, despite a conflict that has moved ever closer to the Syrian leader. On Wednesday, three of his senior military officials were killed in a bombing that struck at the center of the regime’s power.

But even as some rebel fighters say they are pushing for a “final battle” — and some reports said the Syrian leader had fled to the coastal city of Latakia — others say victory is far off, especially with the opposition still struggling to agree on exactly how to oust Assad and who should lead the way.

Perhaps most significant for the future of the uprising is the growing animosity between the exiled dissidents who have monopolized the narrative of the revolution internationally and the activists who have risked their lives to remain in Syria.

For months, opposition leaders who were at the forefront of the uprising when it began have been trying to parlay their activism into more prominent roles on the political front and in groups such as the Syrian National Council, the leading opposition bloc.

But even as they have led the early protest movements, helped form armed militias and become local leaders, they have been overshadowed by exiles in Egypt and Turkey who, many activists say, are out of touch with the revolution and country they claim to speak for. [Continue reading…]

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