The UN Special Envoy for Syria Lakhdar Brahimi’s goal of a ceasefire and negotiations rests on the assumption that the rebels and regime can be brought together at a negotiating table, something that seems a herculean task.
But even getting the rebels to talk to the other rebels is a challenge.
That’s because over a year into the Syrian Civil War, with fighting escalating all the time, the rebel factions all remain deeply divided from one another, with the Islamist factions having no use for the military defectors, and vice versa.
Western nations promising weapons to the rebels have struggled to cope with the myriad of different groups, each of which believes itself to be the “real” leadership of the rebel movement. They have been withholding aid in an attempt to convince the various groups to come together and figure something out.
But can they come together into a rebel coalition? In many ways the rebel factions have less common ground with each other than with the Assad government, and it is hard to envision the military defectors from the Free Syrian Army (FSA) joining together with the al-Qaeda linked rebel factions reliant on foreign fighters, which have an eye on turning Syria into a theocracy.