Syrian opposition's disarray could benefit Assad

Damascus, June 2 (IANS) The Syrian opposition's rejection of talks with the Damascus government and its disarray will benefit President Bashar al-Assad's administration, analysts said.

After a week-long meeting in Istanbul, Syria's National Coalition (SNC), the main opposition umbrella in exile, refused to partake in an international conference in Geneva that seeks to craft a political prelude to end the 26-month-old conflict in Syria, reports Xinhua.

It cited what it called the relentless attack by the Syrian army on the central city of al-Qussair.

Analysts played down the SNC's pretext and said that its rejection emanated from its inner differences and that the conference will surely take place as officials from Russia, the US and the UN are expected to meet in Geneva June 5 to discuss preparations for the conference.

Yet, analysts said the longer it takes for the conference to be held, the better the situation would turn in favor of the Syrian administration.

The Syrian Army has waged an all-out assault against rebel strongholds since April.

The fight focused on the central strategic city of al-Qussair where Syrian troops reportedly backed by fighters from the Lebanese Hezbollah group are scoring a series of victories against the rebels in that key area close to the Lebanese borders.

Al-Qussair's battles could be decisive and important for the Syrian troops as it would deprive the rebels of key supply line from neighbouring Lebanon.

Maher Morhej, a political expert and head of the oppositional Youth Party, told Xinhua that the Syrian administration has no problem in waiting for the conference as its troops were making huge achievements.

Since the start of the crisis in Syria, the opposition has been hobbled with division and great differences.

The opposition has been divided between exiled opposition groups, Syria-based ones, and various rebel groups on ground.

The difference between the broad-based SNC and other groups inside Syria is that the SNC has been a staunch backer of foreign intervention in Syria and rebel armament.

The home-based groups believe that the anti-Assad movement should maintain a non-violent method to establish a new democratic, civil state far from foreign military intervention.

The rebels on ground have become more organised under the banner of the al-Qaida-linked Nusra Front and other Islamic-themed groups whose fighters believe in neither democracy nor freedom but only in an Islamic emirate.

Moreover, the Islamist rebels overtly said that the political opposition doesn't represent them.

Analysts wonder that even if the political opposition embark on a political dialogue, who would have sway on the radical groups to make them

abide by any political decision?

Bassam Abdullah, a political expert who runs a research center in Damascus, said the SNC rejected to participate in the Geneva conference

because "it has no political programme".

He contended that the exiled opposition has always placed its bets on the possibility of a foreign military intervention to topple Assad.

While ostensibly backing the Russian-American initiative for peace in Syria, the European Union has decided to lift arms ban on the Syrian rebels to secure what British Foreign Secretary William Hague said Assad "seriousness" in dialogue.

The move was seen by analysts as aiming to give a boost to the rebels in Syria especially after defeats taking place in central Syria.


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