Syrian opposition to meet in Cairo at end of month
Egyptian Ambassador to Turkey Abderahman Salaheldin has told Today's Zaman that Syrian opposition groups will have a second meeting in Egypt's capital at the end of the month.
Syrian opposition groups met in Cairo on Monday to discuss the main goal of Saturday's UN meeting in Geneva, which was the establishment of a transitional government in Syria.
There was broad participation by the Syrian opposition at the meeting.
The talks were attended by about 10 groups, including the leading Syrian National Council (SNC), which is facing divisions within its ranks, in addition to Syrian activists.
The attendees ranged from secularists to Islamists, and differences in their views appeared early on in the two-day talks.
It was the first time the Arab League hosted a meeting of Syrian opposition groups. During Monday's meeting, Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu and Arab League Secretary-General Nabil Elaraby called on the fragmented Syrian opposition to unite and form a credible alternative to the government of President Bashar al-Assad.
“We don't expect that the opposition will unite today after what we have seen in past meetings. They are always fighting behind closed doors,” said one Arab League member to the press. “But there is always a chance that things could change for the better.”
Syrian opposition groups have said that the Cairo meeting was the most important meeting in gathering opposition groups for a common goal. The meeting is considered an important one for discussing the options for a transitional government.
The concept of a transitional government which was agreed on by world powers during the Geneva meeting would include the Syrian opposition but in no way exclude people from the incumbent administration, upon Russia's insistence.
However, Syrian opposition groups rejected a political transition in Syria that included Assad, calling it a waste of time, and vowed not to negotiate with Assad or members of his regime.
The meeting in Geneva was convened at the initiative of UN-Arab League special envoy Kofi Annan and gathered the five permanent members of the UN Security Council as well as the foreign ministers of Turkey, Iraq, Kuwait and Qatar, along with UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, to discuss the Syrian crisis.
Egypt, as well as Turkey, previously hosted a series of meetings bringing together Syrian opposition groups, but coming on the heels of the Geneva meeting, the importance of this latest meeting has increased significantly. Many opposition groups currently do not want to sit at the same table with members of the Syrian administration to come up with a solution.