First Published: 2012-11-11


Difficult birth of unified Syrian national coalition


Syrian opposition groups meeting in Doha agree in principle on plan to unite against President Bashar al-Assad.


Middle East Online

Compromise between Sabra and Seif reached

DOHA - Syrian opposition groups meeting in Doha have agreed in principle on a plan to unite against President Bashar al-Assad, participants announced early Sunday following marathon talks.

"We have agreed on the main points of the formation of a Syrian national coalition for the forces of the opposition and the revolution. We will continue our discussions on the details on Sunday," opposition figure Suhair Atassi said after 12 hours of talks.

"We were on the point of signing (the accord) but we preferred to give some time to study the internal rules at the request of certain parties," said fellow delegate Riad Seif, reportedly seen by Washington as a potential new opposition chief.

The participants were set to resume their talks at 0700 GMT.

It came after the Syrian National Council (SNC) came under increased Arab and Western pressure to accept an opposition unity plan, amid growing frustration among other dissident groups.

Once regarded as the leading opposition representative but increasingly derided in Washington as dominated by out-of-touch exiles, the SNC had already twice asked for a postponement of the talks on plans for a broad-based government-in-waiting.

The deal is based on an initiative by Seif that envisages the formation of a transitional government, a military council to oversee rebel groups on the ground and a judiciary to operate in rebel-held areas.

The 10-member transitional government would be elected by a new 60-member umbrella group drawn from civilian activists and rebel fighters inside Syria, as well as by the exiles who have dominated the SNC.

On Saturday the SNC had put forward its own proposals and its new leader George Sabra told reporters in Doha that "the SNC is older than... any other initiative" on the table, adding that no opposition group should be forced under the banner of another.

According to watchdog the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, more than 37,000 people have died since the uprising against President Assad erupted in March 2011, first as a protest movement and then as an armed rebellion.


Iran nuclear deal with six world powers gets parliament approval

Libya rival factions reject UN-proposed peace deal

Al-Nusra Front urges jihadists in Caucasus to target Russia

Wave of violence escalates in Jerusalem

Britain abandons Saudi penal system bid

Jerusalem suffers bloodiest day in wave of rising unrest

Ankara attacks raise Kurdish party's with Erdogan

German anti-Islam protesters demand Merkel resign

Palestinians accuse Israel of seeking ‘third intifada’

'Political coup' in Iraq Kurdistan as Barzani clings to power

Yemen PM meets President amid reports of growing differences

Libya factions reject UN-proposed unity government

Algeria orders closure of private TV over 'subversive' interview

Under Russia air cover, Syria regime fights ‘fiercest clashes’ with rebels

EU asks Russia to ‘cease’ air strikes on moderate rebels in Syria

Russian air force hit 53 targets in Syria in last 24 hours

Egypt court orders release of Mubarak sons

Iraq probing reports IS chief injured in air strike

Kurdish militia, Arab rebels join forces in Syria

Saudi to triple umrah visas

Britain urged to accept more Syrian refugees

Thousands vent their anger against Erdogan

Putin meets Saudi Defence Minister on Syria

Barzani’s party asks opposition members to leave Arbil

Lessons from second intifada: Palestinian leaders seek to keep lid on clashes

Iran issues verdict on Washington Post correspondent

Iran lawmakers give partial nod to nuclear deal

Russia rules out Syria ground operation

Iran ‘successfully’ tests new long-range missile

Is Russia using cluster bombs in Syria?

Iraq air force ‘hits’ convoy of ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi

Iran holds funeral for senior commander killed in Syria

Pregnant woman, two-year-old child die in Israel deadly strike on Gaza

Ankara bombings exacerbate climate of mistrust in Turkey

Thousands take to streets to demand departure of Barzani

Qaeda in Yemen executes four on suspicion of sorcery

Egypt agrees to buy two Mistral warships from France

Israel struggles to contain spreading unrest as death toll rises

'Terrorist' attack kills at least 86 people in Ankara

PKK Kurdish rebels declare ‘state of inactivity’

Bashir twists knife in Sudan wound as flawed dialogue kicks off

Syria Assad forces advance with Russia air support

Jordan parliament accuses Israel of 'state terrorism'

World leaders urge Libya rivals to sign long-awaited peace deal

Nobel Peace Prize boosts pluralistic democracy in Tunisia