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Moscow talks delayed as Syrian opposition group breaks apart Open in fullscreen

Rayan Mohammed

Moscow talks delayed as Syrian opposition group breaks apart

Haytham Manna's NCCDC's soft brand of opposition is generally tolerated by the regime [AFP]

Date of publication: 26 February, 2015

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Factional infighting within Syria's National Coordination Committee for Democratic Change is set to split the group irrevocably, sources warn.

Controversial talks between the Syrian regime and members of the opposition due to be held next month in Moscow have been postponed, according to Vitaly Naumkin, the Moscow Forum moderator and academic.

According to opposition sources, the second round of the meeting was due to take place after anti-regime groups meet in Cairo on 17 April.

The first round took place in Moscow last month and was attended by representatives of the regime and an  opposition faction based in Damascus.

It is doubtful whether the meeting will have much effect on solving the crisis in Syria due to the absence of the majority of opposition groups from the talks.

The opposition faction that is due to attend talks in Russia for a second time is represented by Haytham Manna's National Coordination Committee for Democratic Change (NCCDC).

The movement is widely viewed as being close to the regime and not representative of the wider opposition.

Manna made an unannounced visit to Moscow on Tuesday in a bid to ensure the forum can go ahead as planned.

Members of the opposition say that this is an attempt to inflate Manna's political influence within the opposition.

But Manna is said to have handed in his resignation and is in the process of setting up a new opposition group with disgruntled NCCDC members.

     Manna is said to have handed in his resignation and is in the process of setting up a new opposition group.


Opposition analysts say that the splinter group would stand little chance of gaining traction.

The first Moscow meeting was dominated by members of the NCCDC and other figures viewed as being close to the regime.

The January forum was also attended by a low-profile delegation from the Syrian regime, headed by the Syrian ambassador to the UN, Bashar al-Jaafari.

At the end of the meeting, Naumkin read ten points he said were agreed in principle - but not signed by the participants.

Absent from the talks were the largest opposition groups, such as the Syrian National Coalition (SNC) and the democratic movement Building the Syrian State.

Sources in the NCCDC say that the split in the movement began with a rift between Manna and the independents, and the socialist faction.

Kurdish groups within the coalition are said to be remaining neutral.

Leaks such as this have previously been published by opposition groups.

A democratic union in the NCCDC, which is based outside Syria, is also rumoured to be joining the Syrian National Coalition, which is the Western-backed opposition group.

This article is an edited translation from our Arabic edition.

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