Syria Daily: Will Opposition Attend “Peace” Conference? (No.)

By Scott Lucas, eaworldview – January 17, 2014 07:00 Updated – LATEST: Kerry Denounces “Brutality” of “Rise of Extremism” . – The opposition Syrian National Coalition votes on Friday on whether it will attend the international “peace” conference that begins next Wednesday in Switzerland.

On the eve of the decision, US Secretary of State John Kerry called on the Coalition to join the talks. He said, “Any figure that is deemed unacceptable by either side, whether President Assad or a member of the opposition, cannot be a part of the future.” However, the signs are that the divided 120-member Coalition is unlikely to drop its pre-condition that President Assad step aside. A “source affiliated with the Coalition” wrote Christopher Kingdon, who runs the Syrian Civil War page on Reddit:

The truth is the Coalition is VERY fractured about the issue of Geneva II. Half want to go and half don’t. Unless there is some good discussion where people can find good negotiators/reps to go to Geneva II and there is major consensus building, I know for a fact people are ready to walk.

It’s a very divisive issue. People inside Syria do not want the opposition to go to Geneva II…however, outside powers like the US et al. do. The opposition must choose wisely….

[There are] 45 that are ready to walk if we go to Geneva II for sure. Another 20 are still up in the air.

Even if the Coalition’s leader, Ahmad Jarba, persuades the membership to support participation, its presence might be marginal. All insurgent groups inside Syria have rejected the conference, given that it is not based on Assad’s departure.

Even the main domestic opposition group, the National Coordination Body for Democratic Change in Syria, said, “If the opposition participates in Geneva 2, it will commit suicide.”

The Assad regime has accepted the United Nations’ invitation to the meeting although it wrote:

We do not agree with certain points mentioned in the letter of invitation, simply for the reason that they are in conflict with the legal and political position of the State of Syria….

We demand the countries supporting terrorism cease and refrain from funding, training, arming or harbouring terrorist groups in harmony with international law and UN resolutions.

But the regime’s National Reconciliation Minister, speaking at a seminar in Damascus, was already preparing for the failure of the talks.

Ali Haider said:

Don’t expect anything from Geneva II. Neither Geneva II, not Geneva III nor Geneva X will solve the Syrian crisis.

The solution has begun, and will continue through the military triumph of the state … and through the staying power and resilience of the state and all its institutions, in the face of its enemies who were betting on its collapse.

Kerry Denounces “Brutality” of “Rise of Extremism”

US Secretary of State John Kerry’s strongest remarks in Washington on Thursday were not about the proposed “peace” conference but about an insurgency that he portrayed as increasingly unacceptable:

We too are deeply concerned about the rise of extremism. The world needs no reminder that Syria has become the magnet for jihadists and extremists. It is the strongest magnet for terror of any place today. So it defies logic to imagine that those whose brutality created this magnet, how they could ever lead Syria away from extremism and towards a better future is beyond any kind of logic or common sense.