Friday, June 3, 2011

Syrian Opposition Meeting Concludes

PHOTO from Syria Comment

The three-day meeting of Syrian opposition in Antalya concluded today with a common declaration of principles and agreement to form a committee of 31 members representative of different groups in the opposition. The Turkish government is still denying that it had any role in planning the meeting and Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu has made it clear that he has held no meetings with Syrian opposition figures. That said, the meeting's presence on Turkish soil indubitably adds to the pressure Turkey is placing on the Assad regime.

Turkey had been instrumental in alleviating Assad's virtual isolation, but in recent years has taken steps to distance itself from the leader. Prime Minister Erdogan has continually called on Assad to restrain from violence and implement democratic reforms, which the Turkish pro-government papers such as Zaman say has been effective. At the same time, as Assad's regime kills more and more people, bringing an end to the conflict with simple reform becomes more and more unlikely -- a reality not taken for granted by the Turkish government.

At the same time the Syrian opposition was holding its meeting, pro-Assad forces were holding another meeting at a hotel in the same city in attempt to convince the Turkish people that Assad is an Ataturk-type figure deserving of respect and patience.By my estimation, Turks are not buying it.

For more on the meeting and Syria in general, see Joshua Landis's excellent blog, Syria Comment.

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