Syrian opposition leaders fail to form government
By Khaled Yacoub Oweis and Oliver Holmes
ISTANBUL/BEIRUT (Reuters) - Syrian opposition leaders said on Monday they had failed to put together a transitional government to run rebel-held areas of the country, a blow to the exiled group trying to present an alternative to President Bashar al-Assad's rule.
Political efforts to resolve the conflict have largely faltered because of the rebels' failure to form a unified front and because world powers are backing opposing sides.
Talks held by representatives of the opposition Syrian National Coalition (SNC), a 70-member umbrella group dominated by Islamists and their allies, in Istanbul at the weekend only highlighted divisions in the coalition.
"This is a big blow for the revolution against Bashar al-Assad," said one opposition leader who attended the meeting but did not want to be named because he operates in secret in Syria.
Sources at the negotiations in Turkey said SNC President Moaz Alkhatib had flown to Qatar while the meeting was still in progress to ask for financial aid for a transitional government.
The SNC said in a statement a five-member committee would offer proposals for forming a government within 10 days.
However, the only name put forward at the meeting as a possible transitional prime minister was Riad Hijab, a former Syrian premier.
Veteran opposition campaigner Kamal Labwani, said Hijab - the highest ranking member of Assad's inner circle to defect since the revolt erupted in March 2011 - would be an efficient cabinet chief despite his past in the Assad administration. Continued...