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Syrian Regime Ready for Unconditional Negotiations…Opposition: We Don’t Trust Them | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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A girl stands on debris next to a damaged building in Homs, August 2, 2012. Picture taken August 2, 2012. REUTERS/Yazen Homsy

Beirut-The High Negotiations Committee (HNC) of the Syrian Opposition was calm regarding Bashar Assad regime’s inclination to restart unconditional negotiations, saying it had zero confidence in the regime.

The committee’s spokesperson Monzer Makhous told Asharq Al-Awsat he was unsure negotiations would lead to any outcome in light of the differences between the regime and the opposition concerning the transitional phase in Syria. He said: “The lesson lies in the implementation.”

The Assad regime’s announcement that it was ready for unconditional negations came few days after U.N. Special Envoy to Syria Staffan de Mistura said he was exerting efforts to hold a new series of peace talks between Syrian parties in Geneva next August.

However, Makhous asserted that the HNC is more interested in the latest U.S.-Russian rapprochement and the political cost of the military cooperation between the two countries to fight ISIS and al-Nusra Front.

Makhous said that the U.S-Russian agreement contains ambiguous points, and that according to existing information, the problem lies in the big overlap between the presence of members of al-Nusra Front and civilians in the same cities, which would lead to a large number of victims.

Makhous said he does not rule out the presence of a political cost concerning the fact that the U.S. had agreed to military cooperation with Russia in fighting terrorism.

He said it was important to learn from previous lessons and wait to see what would be implemented on the ground. “Our faith in the regime is null,” he said, adding that the opposition asks that a committee with full power be formed during the transitional phase in Syria.

His proposal came as the regime insists on forming a government operating under its umbrella, a suggestion completely rejected by the opposition.

Syria announced on Sunday that it welcomed an unconditional intra-Syrian dialogue.

A statement carried by the official Syrian news agency SANA quoted sources at the Syrian Foreign Ministry as saying “Syria reiterates keenness on achieving a political solution for the crisis in the country that meets the aspirations of the Syrian people and gains their support as it is ready for resuming the intra-Syrian dialogue without preconditions with a view that this dialogue would lead to a comprehensive solution led by the Syrians themselves without foreign meddling and backed by the United Nations and the international community.”

However, Makhous said that despite the international efforts, particularly at the U.S.-Russian level, there is still nothing concrete concerning the unclear agreement between Washington and Moscow, particularly that it contains “ambiguous points concerning its implementation.”

The HNC spokesperson added: “The most important problem is to define the political cost of the military cooperation between Washington and Moscow in fighting ISIS and al-Nusra Front and whether the U.S. had agreed on such cooperation in return for a progress in the political operation. And therefore, the disputes concerning the fate of Assad would definitely change as Russia is expected to offer some concessions vis-à-vis the role of (the president) in the transitional phase.”

The source at the Syrian Foreign Ministry said that Syria was ready “to coordinate counterterrorism air raids in accordance with the agreement between Russia and the U.S.”

The source said his country welcomed the statements issued following the recent visit made by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry to Moscow and the agreement between Moscow and Washington to fight terrorism.

Makhous expects that a new series of talks would be launched in mid-August, adding that the HNC is working to reorganize its internal organization after chief opposition negotiator Mohammed Allouch had verbally resigned from his duties, while head of the HNC delegation in Geneva Asaad al-Zoghbi had announced his willingness to quit.

Makhous said that as soon as the U.N. sets a date for the start of talks, the committee would hold a meeting to discuss the issue.