Divided Syrian Rebels Send Mixed Messages on June Talks

Opposition Bloc Agrees Tentatively to Participate

An Istanbul conference for the rebel Syrian National Coalition has gone through its third day and even into an unplanned fourth day of meetings, but the group remains no closer to consensus on their leadership woes, and their participation in the June peace talks remains up in the air.

SNC spokesman Louay Safi insists that they have tentatively agreed to participate, though he insists that they don’t believe the Syrian government, which has already agreed to take part, is going into it seriously.

At the same time, the SNC’s various would-be leaders have made comments over the past several days suggesting they don’t intend to participate, or that they will condition their attendance on demands of unconditional surrender from the Syrian government beforehand.

Even if the SNC does attend, it is in a very weak bargaining position, having failed to get muster support from other rebel factions, and with their own leadership very much in doubt. Their president resigned already, and their prime minister, a Texas IT professional, has been unable to put together a cabinet. Since the group clearly doesn’t speak for a large portion of the rebel fighters in Syria, it will be difficult to see how they can negotiate for them.

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Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is news editor of Antiwar.com.