The Guardian's reporter in Damascus is sending the most accurate reports, according to activists in the Syrian capital and in Beirut. This conference is important as it is very symbolic, but I doubt it will end the current revolution. The local coordination committees and the Muslim Brotherhood have been excluded, and they are the most popular and mobile on the ground, not the veteran intellectuals who command respect but not loyalty. The fact that they have spent most of their lives in prison hands them credibility, but they will not end this crisis. The reason is that the regime knows what to do, and the demands are known. The same Syrian intellectuals laid out a road map for the crisis. The current regime will form with the opposition a transitional government to hold an elections in order to end the dictatorship. If the regime accepts to go in that direction, would the opposition trust it? I don't think it is trustworthy and I could see many spoilers working behind the scene.
More than 150 Syrian intellectuals and activists including prominent opposition figures will meet in Damascus on Monday to discuss the current crisis and propose a way out of the violence.
Figures attending the conference at a hotel in central Damascus are keen to emphasise that the meeting will be a discussion between independent figures and will not include representatives of the regime nor the opposition.
Those affiliated with political parties have not been invited to attend .
But some opposition figures refused to attend, fearing that any sanctioned meeting in the midst of a brutal crackdown on the four-month uprising would be used by the government to establish credentials for openness without actually committing to widespread reform.
Syrian authorities have apparently given permission for the gathering to go ahead.
International pressure on the regime to give ground to demonstrators who continue to take to the streets of Syria's towns and cities remains intense, despite Damascus insisting at the weekend that frequent outbursts of deadly violence across the country were being caused by a large foreign-backed gang that is outmanoeuvring its formidable military.
Some foreign reporters have been allowed to enter Syria, although most are working with government minders and do not have freedom to move around the country. President Bashar al-Assad said last week he had met some opposition members and citizens who had presented grievances he described as "legitimate".Maan Abdul Salam, an activist in Damascus, said: "The street has opened a space for us and we plan to claim back political life, which has been underground for years. We need to have an open discussion about what is happening in the country."