Talks in Geneva Disrupted Before They Even Began

Translated by Ollie Richardson


Representatives of the external and internal Syrian opposition refuse to go to the talks in Geneva until certain conditions are met. Thus, dialogue on the Syrian settlement under the auspices of the UN is actually disrupted. Earlier, on February 8th, 2017, the office of UN Secretary General’s special envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura announced the intention to conduct a new round of talks.

Separate groups of the Syrian opposition consider that for their participation in a new round of the talks in Geneva, which the UN Secretary General’s special envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura is planning for February 8th, 2017, requires a fulfillment of certain conditions, or the carrying out of preparatory activities. Without this, most of the opposition refuse to attend the meeting.

According to “Izvestia”, general secretary of the National Coalition for Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces (external opposition) Abdul Ilah Fahad, the organization advocates the inclusion of humanitarian issues on the agenda of the Geneva talks.

“We support the termination of bloodshed and destruction in the country. If the talks offered by de Mistura will help to achieve this, we, of course, are willing to attend. At the same time it is difficult to say how sensibly the special envoy assess the situation. Still a couple of days ago there were no factors that would encourage to make such a, frankly speaking, surprise announcement on the resumption of the talks,” said Abdul Ilah Fahad. “I would also like to remind that the reason the National Coalition for Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces exited the previous round of dialogue (held in April) was the unwillingness of the other parties to discuss humanitarian issues, due to the fact that they are, according to the other delegations, outside the scope of the agenda. However, if the purpose of the forthcoming round is a political transition in Syria, then, of course, we are ready to be present.”

In turn, the head of the “Hmeymim” group  (internal opposition) Ilyan Masaad told “Izvestia” that he also has a precondition – the implementation of which he insists on before the start of a new round of Geneva talks.

“I received a message from the office of de Mistura announcing the plans to resume dialogue on 8th February. This is possible only in case of a pre-conference in Astana mentioned by the President of Russia Vladimir Putin, which aims at including a merger of the opposition ranks,” said Ilyan Masaad.

Regarding the readiness to come to Geneva without preconditions, “Izvestia” was told only one of the leaders of the “Moscow-Cairo-Astana” Qadri Jamil.

“We do not have any conditions. Dialogue is strongly slowed down, therefore it is necessary to renew it. We are ready to participate, and we hope that the upcoming round will be the last, because talks for the sake of talks are not needed. The crisis in Syria requires a political solution and the implementation of UN Security Council resolution No.2254 to resolve the conflict. Regarding the proposal to meet in Astana, this area could become auxiliary. Of course, it would make sense to hold such a meeting before coming to Geneva, but the time of its implementation does not constitute a fundamental issue.”

Earlier, the Office of Staffan de Mistura in a written statement stated that the Geneva talks are scheduled to resume on February 8th, 2017. In the document it is stressed that in recent months, an emissary was actively working on the resumption of dialogue between the Syrian government and the opposition.

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De Mistura noted that before this he was going to hold “comprehensive consultations” with the parties to the conflict, as well as with key international and regional players to prepare negotiations.

The previous round of inter-Syrian talks were held in Geneva between 13th to 27th April of this year, and ended without significant results. It was also marked by the early exit of the National Coalition for Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces from dialogue. Since then, more than once, possible dates for the resumption of consultation were announced, but each time they were postponed indefinitely.

Meanwhile, Vladimir Putin reported that in a conversation with his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan it was proposed to hold a meeting of the Syrian authorities and the opposition in Astana. In turn, the President of Kazakhstan Nursultan Nazarbayev has confirmed his readiness to provide a platform for dialogue.

In reality, the so-called “Syrian Opposition” (not even Syrian) has absolutely no leverage, and will simply sit and watch Russia and allies clear out Idlib and declare a military victory, unless of course the “Syrian Opposition” taps out first in order to save face.

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