Syria slams US interference; opposition in tatters

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Syrian-French political scientist, professor and President of the Syrian National Council (SNC), Burhan Ghalioun talks during a press conference on 19 December 2011 in Tunis. (Photo: AFP - Fethi Belaid)

Published Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Syria accused the United States of interfering in the Arab League, after a US official went to Cairo to hold talks with the regional body about the Syrian crisis.

"The United States is one of the parties which is seeking to rekindle violence by its mobilization and incitement (to violence)," foreign ministry spokesman Jihad Makdisi said in a statement.

"The US... statements are a gross interference in the work of the Arab League, and an unjustified attempt to internationalize" the issue of Syria, he said.

The US State Department said on Tuesday that Jeffrey Feltman, the assistant secretary of state for Near East Affairs, was to travel to Cairo for consultations with the Arab League about Syria.

Feltman's visit to Cairo comes as Syrian opposition groups struggle to unite their efforts against the Syrian regime.

A pact signed last week between the two umbrella opposition organizations, the Syrian National Council (SNC) and the National Coordination Body for Democratic Change in Syria (NCB), appears to have broken down.

The SNC said late Tuesday via its Facebook page that the "document conflicts with the SNC's political program and with the demands of the Syrian revolution."

Syria's opposition is struggling to transform the popular protests against the regime into meaningful political action, with continued wrangling concerning foreign intervention and dialogue with the regime.

The SNC, a heterogeneous grouping that encompasses the Muslim Brotherhood, secular activists, and several Kurdish groups, appears divided on the question of foreign intervention.

The Muslim Brotherhood openly called for Turkish military intervention in November, although the SNC refused to officially endorse the Brotherhood's stance.

The NCB remain staunchly opposed to foreign attempts to manipulate the revolution, but has opened the door to "Arab intervention" in an apparent compromise with the SNC.

NCB official Haytham al-Manna told Al-Akhbar that his group does not want Syria "to become the victims of a war by proxy," referring to the regional rivalry between Gulf Arab states and Iran.

Manna rejected Gulf interference in Syria, warning that "Gulf countries might try to turn Syria into a battleground against Iran."

Western powers have repeatedly urged Syrian opposition groups to overcome their differences and present a united front.

Opposition divisions, and continued SNC criticism of what it sees as ineffective Arab League monitors, has left the Syrian uprising in a stalemate.

Reports of protests continue to emerge, as well as violence resulting in the deaths of both protesters, according to opposition groups, and Syrian soldiers, according to Syria's official news agency, SANA.

It is difficult to verify accounts of violence as the regime has crackdown on independent journalists who rarely permitted to freely cover the crisis in Syria.

At least 5,000 people have been killed since the uprising began in March, according to the latest UN figures released in mid-December.

The Syrian government claims that over 2,000 of its security personnel has been killed by armed groups in the same period.

(Al-Akhbar, AFP)

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