The Saudi Council of Ministers led by the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman bin Abdulaziz yesterday said that the partial withdrawal of Russian troops from Syria is a “positive step”. The Council also expressed hope that this withdrawal will accelerate the pace of the political process that is based on the Geneva 1 declaration, and force the Assad regime to make the necessary concessions to achieve the political transition that is sought by everyone in Syria.
However, the regime’s delegation to the Geneva talks continued to be obstinate in a meeting yesterday with the UN envoy Staffan de Mistura, and refused to discuss the political transition process. This has increased the UN envoy’s predicament. When asked if the regime’s delegation had discussed this topic with him at the meeting, de Mistura gave only a brief answer and stated that the abovementioned delegation considers “it to be too early” to deal with the topic .
The words of the Syrian government’s head of delegation Bashar Al-Jaafari after his meeting with de Mistura confirmed that the talks are in serious trouble. Talks between the regime’s delegation and the international envoy’s team can be better described as a “dialogue of the deaf” as Al-Jaafari did not once mention the subject of a political transition during his statements to the press and avoided it completely.
In the meantime, Moscow warned Washington that it will proceed unilaterally, as of today, to strike armed groups that are regularly violating the cease-fire in Syria and will not observe the obligations that it agreed to with the Americans regarding the cessation of hostilities in Syria.
Washington’s first reaction was to call on Russia to refrain from taking unilateral steps in Syria according to what Interfax quoted a spokesman for the White House as saying.