- Associated Press - Wednesday, November 9, 2011

BEIRUT Angry Syrian protesters pelted a group of opposition leaders with eggs outside Arab League headquarters in Cairo on Wednesday, preventing them from entering the building for talks with the organization’s chief about the violence in Syria.

The scuffle highlights the deep divisions within the Syrian opposition, which is struggling to overcome infighting and inexperience eight months into the uprising against President Bashar Assad’s autocratic regime.

The fault lines within the movement continue to hamper its efforts to topple Mr. Assad and have prevented the opposition from gaining the traction it needs to present a credible alternative to the regime.

Instead, it remains deeply divided over fundamental issues, such as whether to engage in dialogue with the regime and call for foreign military intervention.

The protesters in Cairo - apparently concerned the group of opposition leaders would agree to a dialogue with the Syrian government - threw eggs at a four-man delegation of the Syrian National Coordination Committee, headed by Hassan Abdul-Azim, as they tried to enter the Arab League’s headquarters in downtown Cairo.

Members of the delegation, who were pushed and shoved by about 100 protesters, were forced to turn back.

“No to dialogue with the regime,” shouted one protester who gave only his first name, Amjad.

Arab league officials said the delegation left to get a change of clothes and would return in a few hours time, but an official said later that a member of the delegation was meeting with Arab League Secretary General Nabil Elaraby.

The Syria-based National Coordination Committee (NCC) is a rival to the broad-based Syrian National Council group that was announced in Turkey in October and rejects all forms of contact with the regime under the current crackdown.

Some Syrians see the NCC, which includes veteran activists and former political prisoners, as more lenient and willing to engage in a dialogue with the Syrian leadership.

The NCC’s stance has prompted some anti-government protesters in Syria to carry banners reading: “The National Coordination Committee does not represent me.”

NCC members reject the accusations, and the group’s chief is adamant there will be no dialogue during the crackdown, but there have been reports of infighting and differing opinions within the group itself.

Hussein al-Odat, a Damascus-based member of the NCC, said talks with members of Mr. Assad’s regime were out of the question until Syria implements the first part of an Arab League plan agreed to last week by putting an end to the violence and the security crackdown.

“After that, we will enter negotiations over changing the regime from its current form to a democratic, pluralistic one and negotiate on the terms of a transitional period,” he told the Associated Press.