For almost two years the Obama administration has been trying to get the western recognized Syrian opposition, who are mostly located outside of Syria, to develop into a broad-based inclusive moderate Syrian opposition. (The other opposition - secular, liberal, and located mostly inside Syria - has been completely ignored.)
These efforts have been thwarted by the opposition with the help of the governments of Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Turkey and France. This resulted in first the establishment of the Syrian National Council (SNC) in the summer of 2011 and then of the National Coalition for Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces (SOC or NOC) last November.
Both the SNC and the SOC are dominated by the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood and wealthy exiled Syrians who are backed by Qatar.
Recently, though, there are indications that Saudi Arabia has shifted its stance and is now supporting the efforts of the Obama administration.
Today the SOC is in the fourth day of a scheduled three day conference being held in a hotel in Istanbul, Turkey.
The stated aims of the conference were/are to
- expand the SOC's membership with secular and liberal members, and to increase the number of women in the organization,
- choose a new president to replace the SOC's former president who resigned twice in the past two months,
- continue with the establishment of the Syrian Interim Government (reportedly to include the replacement of the Prime Minister who was appointed two months ago),
- decide whether or not to attend the Geneva II conference which the US and Russian governments are hoping to hold next month to discuss a political solution to the unrest in Syria.
So far none of the above have been achieved as infighting between the two main factions and resistance to any change by both of the main factions in the SOC continue.
The governments of Qatar, Turkey and France are supporting those resisting change while the governments of the US and Saudi Arabia, and maybe the UAE, are supporting change.
The Syrian government has agreed in principle to attend the Geneva II conference.
Background information - coverage of the establishment of the SOC last November.
Coverage of the current conference in Istanbul.