Syrian opposition leaders said on Monday they had failed to agree on a transitional government to run rebel-held areas, dealing a fresh blow to their efforts to present a credible alternative to President Bashar al-Assad’s rule, Reuters reports.
The Syrian National Coalition said in a statement that a five-member committee would put forward proposals on forming a government within 10 days, after talks in an Istanbul hotel broke up without agreement on an interim prime minister.
Formation of a government is seen as a threat to some members of the SNC, especially the Muslim Brotherhood, which would lose influence if a smaller executive body were elected.
The Istanbul talks, the opposition’s second bid to form a government, have only highlighted divisions in the coalition and risk undermining support for the umbrella grouping, formed two months ago in Qatar with Western and Gulf backing.
Power struggles within the 70-member coalition have undermined efforts to agree on a transitional government, even as Syria slides further into sectarian conflict between the Sunni Muslim majority and Assad’s minority Alawite sect.
“This is a big blow for the revolution against Bashar al-Assad,” said one Syrian opposition leader who attended the meeting but who did not want to be named because he operates underground in Syria.
He said that half of the SNC opposed the idea of a transitional government altogether, even after the group abandoned a previous stipulation that coalition members would not be allowed to serve in the government.
The coalition, dominated by Islamists and their allies, said in its statement its five-strong committee would consult opposition forces, the Free Syrian Army and friendly states over the political and financial commitments needed to make a government viable.
Sources at the negotiations said on Sunday that SNC President Moaz Alkhatib had flown to Qatar to secure promises of financial aid for a transitional government in rebel-held areas.
Alkhatib, a moderate Damascus preacher, is on the committee, along with businessman Mustafa al-Sabbagh, who is close to Qatar, and tribal figure Ahmad Jarba, who has good ties with regional powerhouse Saudi Arabia.
Rebels have wrested large swathes of Syria from the control of Assad’s forces but the opposition’s failure to provide basic services, mounting reports of indiscipline and looting by rebel fighters have undermined public support for their cause.
Some coalition members in favour of forming a government to restore a semblance of order to rebel-run areas said the SNC, controlled by the powerful Muslim Brotherhood and its allies, had thwarted the proposal. The Brotherhood and supporters were not immediately available for comment.