Did the Syrian opposition just blink? Opposition leader Sheik Khatib, an important cleric from Damascus, posted on his Facebook page that he was willing to talk with the Assad regime. Other opposition figures quickly distanced themselves from the Sheik’s overture, causing him to qualify his statement as “just an opinion.” And Assad is unlikely to bite, according to the New York Times:
Syrian political experts said they strongly doubted that the Syrian government would entertain Sheik Khatib’s offer, partly because that could create the impression that Mr. Assad would look weak if he were to accept the conditions.
If negotiations are at all in the offing, they’re obviously still very far off. And the very public squabbling between the opposition leaders shows just how fractious the Syrian rebels still are as a whole. Nevertheless, as Jushua Landis—a smart Syria expert we’ve written about before—noted in the above article, “the language of negotiation has been opened.” That’s no small thing.