MESOP Syria Daily: Regime — We Don’t Need the Opposition-Rebel Bloc in Geneva Talks
April 21 – by Scott Lucas – eaworldview – The Assad regime has dismissed the opposition-rebel bloc’s suspension of involvement in the Geneva talks seeking a political resolution of Syria’s five-year conflict.The opposition-rebel High Negotiations Committee said on Tuesday that it is formally withdrawing from discussions because of the regime’s continued bombing, sieges, and detentions, as well as Assad’s refusal to discuss his future and a transitional governing authority. However, some negotiators will remain in Geneva for informal contact with UN envoy Staffan de Mistura.The head of the regime delegation, Syria’s UN Ambassador Bashar al-Jaafari, assured on Wednesday after a meeting with de Mistura’s deputy Ramzi Ezzedine Ramzi:The talks will not lose anything, because they do not represent the Syrian people to begin with.
Quite the contrary; maybe by them leaving they will take away major obstacles and that will allow us to reach a solution, because these are a mix of extremists, terrorists, and mercenaries at the beck and call of the [Saudi royal al-Saud family.
He maintained, “There are several [opposition] groups that are present and support having the dialogue continue.” The Assad regime and Russia have tried to put forth an alternative negotiating group through a combination of Syrian domestic politicians who are close to Moscow, and with the Kurdish Democratic Unity Party (PYD).
The domestic politicians, such as former Minister Qadri Jamil and the Movement for a Pluralistic Society’s Randa Kassis, have limited influence outside their acceptance by the regime and Moscow. The PYD and its military branch YPG have become a leading force in the Kurdish movement, but they are opposed by Turkey, which believes they are dominated by the Turkish Kurdish insurgency PKK. Ja’afari criticized the UN and de Mistura for “not treat[ing] all factions of the Syrian opposition on an equal footing”, saying this was “one of the problematic structure-related issues spotted since the first round of the talks”.
The ambassador also maintained the regime’s refusal to negotiate a transitional governing authority, a central element of international proposals since 2012, or of a new Constitution. He said, “Our mandate here in Geneva stops at reaching the point of forming an expanded national unity government” which will maintain Assad in power. Ja’afari effectively dismissed de Mistura’s proposals, circulated last week after previous rounds of discussions, and the UN Security Council resolution behind them: “[These] can only be taken as a road map and not a schedule.” www.mesop.de