The Friends of Syria conference also led to the formation of an angry breakaway movement within the SNC, called the Syrian Patriotic Group, which is headed by longtime dissidents Haitham al-Maleh and Fawaz Tello. Tello told me the other day that this faction wants to better coordinate with the activists on the ground to bring their prescriptions for winning the revolution in line with the SNC's foreign advocacy work. This faction wants the SNC's 310-member General Assembly expanded to "500 or 600" seats to make room for more grassroots activists inside Syria.
"What we are pushing for is to make the base of the opposition broader and to make the SNC more democratic," Tello said, adding that the SNC's main decision-making bodies, the Secretariat General and Presidential Council, should be subject to elections rather than appointments and reappointments made by Muslim Brotherhood fiat.
All this is progress, of a sort, though how it manifests within Syria remains to be seen. Senior U.S. officials pontificating on Capitol Hill would do well to remember that activists and rebels have never waited for a by-your-leave from the U.S. State Department -- much less from external opposition groups -- to decide how to defend themselves and their families.
As Homs submits to what some are calling an "occupation" by regime forces, the next flashpoint could be Idlib, whole swaths of which are rebel-controlled and which benefits from easy resupply from Turkey. Well, what happens when the 4th Division tries to storm this province? Unlike one neighborhood in Homs, the vast province isn't so easily surrounded. Nevertheless, the last time a major assault was waged in Idlib, 10,000 Syrians fled to Turkey, where they now remain, living in tents. The Turks likely won't sit back and accept tens of thousands of more -- they may be forced to make good on their much-promised "buffer zone" out of necessity if not desire.
As ever, the one setting the schedule for this revolution is none other than Bashar al-Assad. The siege of Homs may be over, but the war for Syria has just begun.