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Mightier than the sword

Syria's opposition leader is playing a clever political game

By Julien Barnes-Dacey   March 2013

A negotiated solution to Syria’s devastating civil war seems as distant as ever. Two years after the uprising began, state brutality and bloody polarisation have forged an impossible chasm. So it was a surprise to many that Moaz al-Khatib, head of the opposition Syrian National Coalition, offered in February to engage in talks with the regime. Though not unconditional, the offer broke with the opposition’s longstanding position that there can be no negotiations other than to set the terms for the regime’s ouster.

Given Bashar al-Assad’s butchery—more than 60,000 Syrian are estimated to have died and close to a million…

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