A delegation of Syrian opposition groups arrived in Cairo on Tuesday, one day after the arrival of the National Coalition of Syrian Revolution.
A meeting between the various Syrian opposition entities is scheduled to take place on 22 January at the foreign ministry’s Council of Foreign Relations.
Foreign Ministry Spokesman Badr Abdelatty said the “meeting objective is strengthening the opposition forces in Syria”, adding that Egypt is merely hosting the delegation and is not interfering with the talks.
Among the confirmed leading opposition figures that will participate in the meeting is the head of the Syrian Coordination Authority, Hassan AbdelAzeem. However, there is no clear identification on the total number of the other participating opposition leaders and groups.
“Our main focus now is on laying down the principles of dialogue with other opposition blocs that will be present at the meeting,” said Salem Al-Meslet, Syrian Coalition spokesperson, in a statement on the group’s official website.
He added that there is also a need for a clear framework for negotiations with the Al-Assad regime. The statement added that the Syrian coalition demands that the transitional process is based on the Geneva I communiqué adopted by the UN Security Council resolution No 2118 in 2013.
Russia, known for its Syrian regime sympathies since the conflict’s 2011 commencement, will receive Al-Assad regime and opposition figures in Moscow at the end of January to discuss further political solutions.
Marie Harf, US State Department deputy spokesperson said on Monday in response to both initiatives: “We believe that any kind of efforts that can get us closer to a real political solution here that makes genuine progress towards addressing these core grievances and providing a sustainable solution would be helpful”.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, an independent group for documenting Syrian casualties, announced 17,790 of the dead in 2014 were civilians, including 3,501 children. Cities in northern Syria, including Aleppo and Idlib, have fallen under the control of Islamic State of Iraq and Al-Sham, which is fighting Al-Assad and other opposition forces, including the Free Syrian Army and Al-Nusra Front.
Ali Al-Ibrahim, a Syrian journalist based in Damascus told Daily News Egypt that such meetings have proven unsuccessful since the conflict started, and will not stop the bloodshed.
“We do not need a political solution here, but rather a ground-based solution that points the revolutionary guns towards the Al-Assad regime forces,” he added.
In October 2013, an Egyptian delegation including over 30 representatives of different Nasserist parties met with Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad for approximately four hours in Damascus. The open discussion that followed stressed the importance of the Syrian army’s resistance in the face of “terroristic” oppositional allies.
Nasser ideologies support the Syrian army and perceiving the country’s conflict as a foreign agenda backed by Qatar and Turkey. Alaa AbouZaid, a leading member of the Nasserist Party in Egypt, said: “The Cairo-based Syrian opposition talks will decrease the credibility of the Egyptian state in terms of its national independence.”
He referred to Egypt’s role as an intermediate party between both the Syrian regime and the opposition.
Months prior to this meeting with Al-Assad, during the Muslim Brotherhood rule, then-president Morsi called on Egyptians to go fight in Syria and publicly announced cutting the relations with official personnel in the Syrian regime. His statement came during a conference for supporting Syria held in Cairo Stadium.
Over 300 Egyptian citizens reportedly travelled to Syria through Turkey’s open borders to fight with different opposition forces. The issue provoked widespread reaction, particularly after the death of Egyptian Mohamed Mehrez, who was killed in Idlib during a skirmish with the Syrian army in February 2013.