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Ignoring ‘Political Transition’ Lowers Syrian Expectations Ahead of Geneva | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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U.N. special envoy for Syria, Staffan de Mistura, at the Munich Security Conference on Sunday/ Reuters Michaela Rehle

Beirut- Few days prior to the new round of talks expected in Geneva this week and after the failure of the Astana meeting to bolster ceasefire in Syria, the opposition was looking with cautious optimism at all the recent developments anticipating the Feb. 23 round of talks.

The Syrian opposition’s expectations at Geneva this week have lowered after international players overlooked the “political transition” of power in Syria.

Their caution also came as U.N. special envoy to Syria Staffan de Mistura said on Sunday that the roadmap for a political solution stipulates drafting a new constitution in Syria, free and fair elections administered under supervision of the United Nations, and transparent and accountable governance.

And while the High Negotiations Committee awaits a clearer picture concerning the agenda of the Geneva meeting and the list of participants, the Syrian National Coalition (SNC) was holding meetings with a number of officials at the U.S. administration with an aim to be updated on the latest developments related to the Syrian file.

Representative of the Coalition in Washington Najib al-Ghadban described the meetings with U.S. officials as “good,” and expected that Washington uncovers its plan concerning the Syrian file during the next talks in Geneva. “Officials confirmed to the Coalition delegation their support for a political operation based on the Geneva statement,” he said.

On Sunday, SNC President Anas al-Abdah downplayed the ability of the Geneva talks to cause a breach in the Syrian file.

He said the Syrian opposition is fully committed to peace talks in Geneva on Feb. 23, adding that these talks would need to pave the way for a political transition.

“We are fully committed to the Geneva talks,” al-Abdah told delegates at the Munich Security Conference. “We cannot address the profound security threats … while Assad remains in power,” he said.

SNC spokesperson Monzer Makhous told Asharq Al-Awsat: “In principle, we will attend the Geneva talks if no major changes occur.”

Makhous added that, “After the failure of the Astana talks to bolster the ceasefire in Syria, the opposition is worried about two issues: The agenda of the Geneva talks, which we have not yet received and the list of delegations attending the meeting.”

Makhos revealed that a new formula is currently under construction concerning the Syrian file, adding that he does not rule out the emergence of surprises during the two upcoming days.