The Syrian opposition groups’ meeting in Istanbul highlights their urgent efforts to streamline an effective resistance against President Bashar Al Assad’s regime. It is for this reason that the Syrian National Council, the largest grouping of the opposition, is making efforts to forge links with other groups and form a bigger alliance. Meanwhile, the Syrian forces continue fighting opposition activists at home.
Assad now faces a bigger challenge in trying to suppress rebellion in his security forces. This has spurred violent clashes between government forces and defecting units that joined hands with the opposition. Unfortunately, civilians continue to become inadvertent targets even when not directly pitted against the government forces. On Friday, at least 11 were killed in the city of Ratsan.
With no signs of ceasing, the protests against the regime are in full swing. But the sacrifices being made by the opposition ranks on the streets may need more than just passion and call for revenge for blood spilled. This is why it is doubly important for the opposition groups outside the country to harness efforts into launching an effective campaign outside against the brutalities under way in Syria.
The continuing unrest in Syria has also witnessed the failure of the international community to reach a consensus on how best to deal with the situation. Earlier it was the decision on sanctions and now it is the lack of support to refer Syrian leadership to the International Criminal Court for the brutalities against civilians. It may take a while for the world powers to come to an agreement on wider sanctions and/or even military intervention. Whether that actually comes about is the question, given the furore created over the NATO strikes on Libya, despite the success achieved. Syria may prove a different case and prompt a rethink before any military option is considered, since its alliance with Iran and militant group Hezbollah in Lebanon may prove a deterrent. This is why efforts are under way to support the opposition groups to bring about a change internally. With defections having started within the forces, it may take more time and commitment to shape this into a bigger anti-regime movement than at present.
At the same time, the Syrian opposition groups should make efforts to engage with the regime through intermediaries in order to reach a political solution and not jeopardise further lives. This is an option that even Assad should consider long and hard for force can only prove useful for so long. Compromises are inevitable and this is something he needs to understand sooner rather than later.