There have been many contradictions in the past few hours with regards to the meetings aimed at finding a solution to the Syrian crisis which were supposed to begin in Geneva this evening. The Syrian opposition does not seem ready, technically and politically, to participate at this point in time and this is contrary to the UN’s confirmation that “there is no change in timings”.
It appears that the meeting will be postponed again to Monday as the opposition will decide its final position today according to what leading sources at the supreme negotiating body told Asharq Al-Awsat. Reasons cited for the postponement were described as “technical and logistical”, the most important of which was the inability of opposition members to obtain visas to Switzerland until now, and the possibility that roles and responsibilities of the negotiating body’s members will change at the last minute. This is the second postponement of the negotiations which were originally scheduled for last Monday.
The contradiction in the statements made by the UN’s special envoy to Syria Staffan de Mistura and those made by his spokesperson is interesting. After de Mistura indicated in a message addressing the Syrian people that the negotiations will take place in the coming days, his spokeswoman Khawla Mattar said that “there will be no postponement by us”. A Russian proposal to convene an international meeting on the Syrian crisis which would be attended by western, Arab and Iranian officials in Munich, Germany on the 11th of February was announced yesterday.
The supreme negotiating body for the Syrian opposition continued its consultations in Riyadh yesterday for the third consecutive day after it received a positive response from the international envoy about the demands that it has already made regarding the separation of the political course from the humanitarian one. According to what the spokesman for the body Riad Nassan Agha revealed to Asharq Al-Awsat, the supreme negotiating body received an initial response from the Secretary-General of the United Nations Ban Ki-moon embracing de Mistura’s answer yesterday evening and indicated that the final decision of the body will be announced today. Whilst it is likely that the body will decide to participate based on the data that it has, there has been a hardening in the positions of representatives of military factions and this is a matter that will not be easily overcome.