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Syrian Businessmen to Fund Cairo Conference

Organizers of the Syrian opposition's upcoming Cairo conference, to be held mid-May
, have decided to refuse state funding for the event
Syrian Businessmen to Fund Cairo Conference

Member of the Cairo Conference’s follow-up committee, Qasim al-Khatib, said the Cairo Conference Preparatory Committee has completed the preparation of papers, documents and invitations for the conference to be held in the first half of next month, funded by Syrian businessmen.

The conference was originally scheduled for mid-April, however, many reasons prompted those in charge of the conference to postpone it.

"The most significant of these reasons was the Arab summit in Cairo, which prompted the Egyptian Foreign Ministry to postpone the reception of about 200 Syrians who were supposed to attend the conference", Khatib said.

Khatib’s statement comes at a time when Syrian political circles are talking of multiple reasons for the postponement of the conference. The Italian AKI news agency recently reported that two parties are attempting to abort the Cairo conference for the Syrian opposition: the Coordination Commission, which hopes to form a majority in the conference; and the National Coalition, which refuses to officially attend the conference.

AKI’s sources noted: "The participation of the Muslim Brotherhood and the Egyptian position could have reached an acceptable solution if the Coalition and the Commission agreed to discuss the problem reasonably".

The Secretary-General of the Coalition, Yahya Maktabi, denied the Coalition's responsibility for postponing the Cairo conference, saying: "The responsibility lies primarily on the organizing committee", stressing that "the Coalition was and still supports a political solution based on the Geneva statement, and there is no dispute with the Cairo Conference".

Maktabi added: "the Coalition participated in the first consultative meetings, which were the nucleus of the Cairo conference", further noting "the opposition does not require new documents as much as it needs an international will to end the tyranny and stop the bloodshed in Syria".

Maktabi believes the idea of a political solution to the Syrian crisis requires Syrians to agree on a unified national vision, which is why the follow-up committee refused any state funding, relying entirely on Syrian businessmen.

The secretary-general also stressed: "This does not negate the existence of an Arab and regional agreement to push toward a Syrian-Syrian agreement about the political solution", pointing out "the Egyptian foreign minister affirmed Egypt and Saudi Arabia's support for this conference during his meeting with the follow-up committee (after returning from Riyadh), where he said that the Cairo conference will prepare for the meeting in Riyadh”.

Maktabi expressed his concern about the mystery of President Bashar al-Assad’s fate, which encouraged the Coalition to exercise caution toward conferences and political initiatives. Maktabi stressed: "Assad's place is the criminal court, and he will not be a partner in any solution. The Coalition fears international pressure – under the pretext of the war against terrorism – to reproduce Assad's regime".

Translated and edited by The Syrian Observer

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