WEST KURDISTAN (SYRIA) – by Scott Lucas 15 – eaworldview – 22 March 2016 – Despite a call by UN envoy Staffan de Mistura to adopt a serious approach in negotiations over Syria’s crisis, the Assad regime’s delegation offered no prospect of an advance after Monday’s discussions.
De Mistura said over the weekend that he wanted “details” from the Assad group “on how they see the political transition taking place” to end the five-year conflict. He asserted that the delegation “could not avoid substantive questions forever”.
However, after meeting de Mistura yesterday, Syria’s UN Ambassador Bashar al-Jaafari raised doubts about any discussions with the opposition-rebel High Negotiations Committee, denouncing them as illegitimate because of the rebellion against President Assad’s rule:How come there aren’t armed moderate opposition groups active on French, British, and US soil that are sponsored by other states? Why this discrimination against the Syrian people?…It is not our problem, nor is it De Mistura’s that the Riyadh opposition delegation [the HNC] has terrorists in it….It is the problem of the International Syria Support Group that claims to be a group for supporting Syria, but in fact it isn’t.He continued, “We don’t know until now how is representing the opposition delegation and who is the expert and who is the consultant, and this is a big obstacle for dialogue.”Jaafari maintained that the HNC had not responded to the regime delegation’s “Basic Elements for a Political Solution”, presented to de Mistura last week.fficials and diplomats have said that the document was “very thin”, “bland”, and “off the point”, with no mention of a political transition.The Geneva talks, the second round of discussions this year, resumed on March 14. De Mistura has been holding sessions alternately with the regime and opposition-rebel groups.The senior HNC negotiator, Mohammad Alloush, repeated on Monday that Assad’s departure from power is essential to any political resolution. www.mesop.de