HNC: Assad agents can’t be represented in opposition’s delegation

HNC: Assad agents can't be represented in opposition's delegation
HNC spokesman Yahya Aridi

As the US is pushing the Syrian opposition to form a joint delegation for the upcoming peace talks, the HNC said it can’t be done with the ones who share Assad’s ideology and supports him.

The Syria peace talks had been planned to begin in Geneva on Feb. 8 after the Russian-backed talks were made on January 23 in Astana, but Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said last week that they had been postponed.

The UN envoy for Syria, Staffan de Mistura, said on Tuesday that he had decided to delay the UN-sponsored talks in order to take advantage of the results of Astana talks.

“We want to give a chance to this Astana initiative to actually implement itself,” de Mistura told reporters outside the Security Council. “If the ceasefire becomes as solid as we hope, that will only help the serious talk to achieve the concrete.”

He added invitations for the UN-sponsored talks in Geneva would go out on Feb. 8. If the Syrian opposition cannot agree on its delegates, de Mistura said the UN would choose the opposition’s representatives “in order to make sure that it can be as inclusive as possible.”

The UN wants all the groups that describe itself as opposition t be represented in one delegation, a goal that seems hard to reach as huge differences pose itself between them.

Other than the High Negotiations Committee (HNC)which is considered to be the main opposition group, there are many other groups that are considered by the UN to be among the opposition including the Kurdish political wing of the YPG forces, the Cairo platform, and the Damascus platform which is backed by Russia.

These groups have doesn’t share the HNC’s view of Syria’s future and have been accused of hindering the political process. Damascus group, for example, is said to unify the opposition figures inside the country. Most of them refused the revolution when it started and formed their delegation after the UN started its political efforts to end the war. The group is supported by Russia, accepts the idea of Assad being in power and back the Russian air campaign against Syrian civilian saying its aim is fighting terrorists.

Last week, members of various factions of those platforms met with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in Moscow and discussed among other issues the possibility of forming a single delegation for Geneva. The HNC General Coordinator Riyad Hijab did not attend the meeting in Moscow.

We won’t work with Assad backers

The HNC said on Wednesday it would be “unacceptable” for the United Nations to choose opposition delegates to the next round of peace talks in Geneva.

“Mr. de Mistura’s talk of his intentions to form the opposition delegation himself is unacceptable,” the Saudi-backed High Negotiations Committee, the main opposition umbrella group, said on Twitter, citing its spokesman Salim al-Muslit.

“Would de Mistura be able to intervene in forming the regime’s delegation?” asked the HNC, which includes political and armed groups and represented the opposition in peace talks last year.

HNC chief coordinator Riad Hijab said on Twitter: “Selecting the Syrian opposition delegation is not de Mistura’s business.”

“The HNC is not against forming the delegation in the right time with the right people and for the right talks. Those who were in the talks — part of Astana and part of Geneva – should be included. … Anyone believing in Geneva Communique that talks about a political transition [of 30 June 2012] is welcome,” HNC spokesman Yahya Aridi also said.

He added that if some members of opposition factions are “echoing what Assad regime wants,” then they are “the backers of Assad regime delegation.”

Who is really hindering the political solution?

Earlier, a spokesman of the Syria’s Tomorrow Movement reflected his group’s intentions when he said that “differing visions on the future of Syria among the opposition parties make it extremely difficult to form a unified front, adding that the group opposes the HNC’s activities, namely lenience toward al-Nusra Front terrorist group,” which is in fact not right as the armed rebels represented by the HNC doesn’t share al-Nusra’a ideology and agreed to fight it in Astana’s talk.

This statement reflects these group’s refusal of the armed resistance and repeats Assad regime’s accusations of the revolution, according to analysts.

In addition, the Damascus Platform may propose its own delegation of Syrian opposition forces and civil society members from inside the country for the upcoming Geneva reconciliation talks, Ahmad said.

“We are going to have a meeting of the Damascus Platform soon and may discuss an idea of proposing a list of our own delegation of civil society members and opposition forces from inside the country to Staffan de Mistura’s office ahead of talks in Geneva,” Ahmad said.

The accusations for these groups of hindering the political process and having other agendas other than what Syrian civilians want may be true as Ahmad said: “a new round of settlement negotiations would be useless unless the civil society members were invited to participate.”

The Syrian crisis began as a peaceful demonstration against the injustice in Syria. Assad regime used to fire power and violence against the civilians and led to armed resistance. 450.000 Syrians lost their lives in the past five years according to UN estimates, and more than 12 million have lost their homes.