Syria Opposition Meets; Regime Offers Talks

Overseas Activists Largely Critical of 'Dialogue' Calls

by Jason Ditz, June 27, 2011

A large portion of Syria’s opposition, as well as a number of intellectual leaders of the reform movement, met today in Damascus, in the first public meeting of its kind allowed by the regime. The meeting was permitted with an offer of “national dialogue” talks with the regime next month.

The meeting saw calls for massive changes in the nation, though it also reflected a split between those who believe that the situation can be resolved through reforms and those demanding immediate regime change.

The meeting itself was also controversial, with a number of overseas activists condemning the notion of talks on general principle and insisted they, not the opposition figures in Damascus, truly represent the protesters.

Of course the National Dialogue Conference is being met with serious skepticism after months of violent crackdowns on the protesters, but there is at least some hope that the Assad Regime is offering the talks as an acknowledgment that violence has failed to end the rallies.

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