Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

Syrian opposition says Syrian FM comments an attempt to derail Geneva II - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
Select Page

Ahmed Al-Jarba, president of the Syrian Opposition Coalition, speaks at the Friends of the Syrian People meeting on the sidelines of the 68th United Nations General Assembly on September 26, 2013 in New York City. (Andrew Burton/Getty Images/AFP)

Ahmed Al-Jarba, president of the Syrian Opposition Coalition, speaks at the Friends of the Syrian People meeting on the sidelines of the 68th United Nations General Assembly on September 26, 2013 in New York City. (Andrew Burton/Getty Images/AFP)

Beirut, Asharq Al-Awsat—Louay Safi, a spokesman for the Syrian National Coalition for Revolutionary Forces and Syrian Opposition, told Asharq Al-Awsat that recent comments made by Syrian foreign minister Walid Al-Mouallem about the refusal to negotiate with the coalition were akin to an obituary of the Geneva II conference.

The coalition spokesman said the Syrian regime was in no place to dictate with whom it negotiated at the Geneva II conference.

Mouallem announced on Saturday that the Syrian government would not accept the coalition as a representative of the opposition at the Geneva II conference, due to be held in mid-November. He said: “The Syrian opposition must be represented by licensed Syrian opposition parties.”

The foreign minister reiterated comments made by President Bashar Al-Assad a few days ago, in which he said that the opposition coalition, which is based outside Syria, “does not represent the Syrian people.” The president added that he would hold dialogue with the “opposition and parties inside Syria.”

Mouallem said: “The coalition has lost the Syrian people after asking the Americans to bomb Syria.”

However, the coalition spokesman said: “The only representative of the opposition is the coalition,” adding that “the Syrian regime will not choose whom it will have dialogue with.” He added that “we have demanded that the regime adheres to the last Geneva agreement, because it is not clear to us whether the regime is prepared to negotiate within that framework—meaning the acceptance of the six points and a transitional government with full authority.”

Speaking from New York, where he was attending the UN General Assembly meeting, Mouallem told Sky News Arabia that “the national opposition disagrees with the Syrian government on specific issues, and the dialogue in Geneva must lead to its participation in a national unity government and in national elections.”

The Syrian foreign minister reiterated that Assad was not prepared to relinquish power. He said: “Assad is an elected president until the next elections in the middle of next year, and nobody can cast doubts on this legitimacy.” He neither confirmed nor denied Assad’s intention to run for another term.

Safi, the coalition spokesman, said: “We have continuously reiterated that the aim of the negotiations for us is the transition to a democratic system through a transitional government with full powers to prepare for a real democratic phase, and to hold free and transparent elections, because the last elections, which brought in Assad, were not free or transparent.”

Safi said the opposition will always be prepared to go to Geneva to show the international community that the regime was pretending it wanted a political solution, which was “a blatant lie.” He added: “We want to show that what the regime is saying is nothing other than maneuvering, because it does not want to go to the Geneva talks in the first place.”

Mouallem made his comments at a time when UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon was holding talks with the president of the Syrian National Coalition (SNC), Ahmed Al-Jarba.

A spokesman for the office of the UN secretary-general, Martin Nesirky, said Jarba had confirmed “the SNC’s readiness to send representatives to Geneva II.”

Ban called on the coalition to “contact all opposition parties to form a unified delegation representing everyone.”