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Syria's opposition groups convene in Qatar – can they build a unified front?

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Secretary Clinton said last week that "the SNC can no longer be viewed as the visible leader of the opposition. They can be part of a larger opposition. But that opposition must include people from inside Syria and others who have a legitimate voice that needs to be heard."

The Associated Press adds that at the top of the agenda is a US-supported proposal by prominent dissident Riad Seif to set up a new leadership council with some 50 seats, 15 of which would go to current SNC leaders with the remainder being held by Syrian local leaders and rebel commanders who currently have no political say in the SNC but are actively involved in opposition on the ground. SNC chief Abdelbaset Sieda told AP that he believes the SNC should hold 40 percent of the council seats.

Joshua Landis writes on his blog Syria Comment that the political situation is "nearly identical" to that of 1950s Syria, when the US and Britain tried to rally a Syrian opposition against Syria's Baathists, allied with the Soviet Union and Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser, but with no success.

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