Syria’s new opposition coalition held its first full meeting yesterday to discuss forming a transitional government but disagreements broke out at the outset.
The 60 or so delegates, chosen after talks in Qatar this month, are meeting in Cairo. After the Syrian National Council (SNC), the first opposition grouping formed in Istanbul last year that became dominated by the Muslim Brotherhood, won international support, a Western and Gulf backed effort produced the new coalition earlier this month.
The SNC has 27 members in the new coalition and a clash immediately broke out as the meeting started as the council tried to increase its share, delegates at the meeting said. “Nothing will proceed until we work this out,” said one SNC member at the talks. “This is not a salad you mix and add to at whim. The future of Syria is at stake and the Brotherhood is pushing more of its hawks into the coalition, although it already has half of the seats,” said another delegate. He pointed to many non-coalition members who attended the meeting, or were present in the Cairo Hotel where the conference is taking place. Most were members of the Brotherhood.
“The problem is bigger than the Brotherhood issue. We do seem to be able to overcome a tribal quota mentality. It is just delaying discussing the serious issues of forming a government and responding to the international community,” said another delegate.