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Geneva Syrian Rebel Negotiators: Progress is to Our Credit, Awaiting Agenda | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Men inspect the damage at a site hit by what activists said were two barrel bombs dropped by forces loyal to Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad in Aleppo’s al-Shaar neighborhood February 26, 2015. REUTERS/Rami Zayat

Beirut – Syrian rebel negotiators saw that progress achieved at the Geneva peace talks lays the foundations for the upcoming period, even though a number of opposition forces believe that the outcome is a loss or a compromise that could have been avoided.

Other than disregarding the importance of political transition by the regime delegation, many topics spur controversy at the negotiations. The multilateral representation of each bloc and the regime’s ultimatum on terrorism are two issues of which rebels seek clarification.

“At the onset of the Geneva talks, the regime refused addressing three topics, political transition being one. And at the start of Geneva 4 talks the regime delegation threatened to withdraw should transition be mentioned in the agenda—however, Russian influence has forced the regime back to negotiations, which is a win the High Negotiations Committee (HNC),” Rebel negotiator Major Fateh Hassoun told Asharq Al-Awsat.

Fouad Aliko, who is representing the Kurdish National Council (KNC) at peace talks in Geneva, considered the progress achieved at the talks as a ‘triumph.’

“What has been achieved is fundamentally positive, and is now in the process of waiting the fog to clear out and the United Nations envoy to officially announce the agenda,” Aliko told Asharq Al-Awsat.

But what is interesting is that the regime continues to refer to political transition with the ‘political process,’ he added.

Each of Aliko and Hassoun stressed that the HNC still abides by the outcomes reached at the Riyadh conference. The regime will not be the force to govern the period of political transition, a condition which is not necessarily backed by Russia which believes that it is a matter to be settled at the negotiations.

Aliko added that the HNC is still determined to unite all rebel forces under one representative delegation. “If they concede to the outcomes of the Riyadh-based conference and the removal of Assad from power, then we will unite under a single delegation—yet if they refuse, we will not accept going under the same banner,” he said.