The Syrian opposition is showing fresh signs of fracture ahead of an Arab League summit expected to focus on the country’s turbulent situation.
On Sunday, Moaz al-Khatib, the president of the opposition Syrian National Coalition, resigned citing constraints on his “freedom that cannot be available within the official institutions”.
“I had promised the great Syrian people and promised God that I would resign if matters reached some red lines. Now I am fulfilling my promise,” read a statement on Mr. Khatib’s Facebook account. The resignation could remove some of the shine from the proposed formal handover of Syria’s official seat in the Arab League to a new opposition-led provisional government. The handover is expected during the two-day Arab League summit that commences in Doha on Tuesday.
Mr. Khatib, who had proposed talks with the Syrian government as a means to end bloodshed, had confronted a storm of protests for his move within the ranks of the Syrian opposition.
He announced his decision to resign after a meeting with European Union (EU) representatives, “which resulted in achieving nothing”, Mr. Khatib’s spokesman Mohamed Ali told al-Jazeera.
Divided over PM
Mr. Khatib’s resignation comes at a time when the Free Syrian Army (FSA) — a western and Gulf-backed coalition of armed militant groups — rejected the appointment of Ghassan Hitto as the opposition’s Prime Minister. The sharp divide between the opposition’s military wing and its already fissured political arm came into the open when the FSA, during the March 18 vote, asserted that Mr. Hitto’s appointment was not based on “consensus”. Speaking on behalf of the “military councils and the chief of staff”, FSA spokesman Louay Muqdad stressed that his organisation could not recognise Mr. Hitto as the provisional Prime Minister because he was “forced on the National Coalition, rather than chosen by consensus”.
Mr. Hitto’s appointment also triggered the resignation of at least 12 members of the SNC — a move that has virtually frozen the process of the formation of a provisional cabinet.
While the opposition grappled with its internal problems, the Syrian government reached out to the dissidents within to support a negotiated end to the crisis. The domestic opposition and the government launched the National Dialogue Forum as an umbrella organisation on Sunday with a mandate of steering a more inclusive dialogue. Xinhua quoted Fayez Sayegh, a lawmaker as saying that the aim of the meeting was to “kick off the political process led by the Syrians themselves”. However, the dialogue failed to draw within its fold, the National Coordination Body (NCB) and the Building Syria State — two major opposition groups that are functioning inside Syria.
Analysts saysaid that a section of the domestic opposition was communicating with the FSA, in order to give more substance and inclusivity to the dialogue.