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Regional Stability Diplomacy Politics

The Syrian Opposition Meeting in Cairo: One Small Step

Free Syrian Army rebels take up positions along an embankment on the outskirts of the northwestern city of Maraat al-Numan, Syria. Image: FreedomHouse/Flickr

This article was originally published by the Middle East Institute on 31 January, 2015.

Around 100 Syrian opposition figures recently concluded a conference in Cairo. The meeting was noteworthy for two reasons. It signaled Cairo’s cautious but unmistakable entry into the Syrian minefield, and it marks the still-fragmented opposition’s first careful steps in the direction of a compromise with the Assad regime.

President Abdul-Fattah el-Sisi’s government is determined to rehabilitate Egypt’s pan-Arab image and to restore an Egyptian role in Arab affairs—in Syria and elsewhere. “Egypt,” explains one close observer of the diplomatic efforts on Syria, “is trying to replace Istanbul as the capital of the opposition.”[i]