The Lebanese Daily Star quotes representatives of the Ankara-based Syrian National Coalition as stating that the Coalition had decided not to participate in consultative working groups.
The Coalition noted that it considers adherence to the Geneva Communique and UN Security Council resolutions, as well as an end to Russian air strikes in Syria as preconditions for the resumption of the negotiation process.
The National Coalition also rejected de Mistura’s proposal on the basis that it continues to insist on the formation of a "transitional government without President Bashar Al-Assad”.
The Syrian government as well as members of the domestic, political Syrian opposition as well as coalition partners to the Baath Party – led government insist that no Syrian government has the constitutional mandate to form any government without involving the Syrian electorate.
President Al-Assad has repeatedly stressed that he would step down as soon as the Syrian electorate had chosen another person to hold the presidency. As long as the electorate supports my presidency, said Al-Assad, I have the obligation and duty to fulfill my duties on behalf of the people of Syria.
De Mistura approached the foreign-backed opposition in the apparent attempt to launch working groups whose work should lead to a Geneva III Conference. Last month members from three opposition groups, including the National Coalition were invited to participate in these preparatory groups.
The work of these groups should have focused on security and anti-terrorist efforts, political and constitutional reforms, the humanitarian situation as well as on economic aspects and rivalries. Another aspect of de Mistura’s proposal was reportedly the establishment of a permanent working group at the United Nations. The Syrian government has expressed its willingness to continue the dialog.
Russia has hosted several meetings with representatives of the Syrian government and the foreign-backed opposition. One of this meetings resulted in direct talks between the conflicting parties. The foreign-backed opposition’s dependency on backing from Turkey and other NATO member States as well as from Gulf Arab States, arguably, makes their decisions dependent on their sponsors who largely oppose the Russian air strikes in Syria.
Russia, for its part, maintains that it has a legal mandate for the air strikes due to an authorization granted by the Syrian government. Two other factors are considered by many analysts. Russia’s initiative against ISIL, Jabhat Al-Nusrah and other extremist insurgencies in Syria may counter the risk that thousands of Russian citizens who are fighting alongside the insurgents return to Russia, especially to Russia’s volatile Caucasus region.
Another aspect that may have forced Moscow’s hand is that military analysts like Pakistani Major (ret) Agha H. Amin stress that NATO’s strategy aims at establishing a belt of low-intensity conflicts from the Mediterranean, along Russia’s soft and resource-rich underbelly to Baluchistan, Pakistan.
CH/L – nsnbc 12.10.2015