The new head of the Syrian National Council George Sabra is continuing talks on uniting the country’s different opposition groups.
A major stumbling block as talks take place in Doha is the possibility of the SNC losing influence within a larger bloc of opposition. The current plan would see the SNC get about a third of 60 seats in the group meant to appoint a 10-member transitional government.
Speaking about the search for a deal with other opposition groups, Sabra said: “We are studying the initiative. We also have our proposals for a new initiative between us and them, which we will discuss while we are meeting.”
The current plan was put together by another veteran dissident, Riad Seif, believed to be preferred by Washington, but agreement may be a long way off.
“Optimism appears to be waning and it seems that discussions here in Doha might be prolonged unless a sudden development prompts a breakthrough, increasing international and Arab pressure,” said euronews correspondent in Doha Maha Barada.
The opposition forming one coherent body is also the desire of some of the estimated 408,000 Syrian refugees who have fled the violence.
“Sabra should learn from the mistakes of previous leaders. The gap between the Syrian National Council and the people should be closed. Our priority is to stop Syrian people being killed. The opposition should unite,” said Abdulrahman Mostafa from Yayladagi refugee camp in neighbouring Turkey.
“Our problem is huge. We want him to unite everyone and stop what’s happening in Syria as soon as possible,” added Hussam Abidin.
Opposition groups may have to reflect on the dire situation faced by Syrians forced to leave – a number anticipated to rise to over 700,000 by the UN’s refugee agency (UNHCR).