News / Middle East

Syrian Opposition Sets Preconditions for Peace Talks

Foreign ministers of the Arab League countries meet in Cairo, Nov. 3, 2013. Syrian National Coalition President Ahmad Jarba told an Arab League emergency meeting on Sunday that the opposition would not attend proposed peace talks in Geneva unless there was a clear time-frame for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to leave power.
Foreign ministers of the Arab League countries meet in Cairo, Nov. 3, 2013. Syrian National Coalition President Ahmad Jarba told an Arab League emergency meeting on Sunday that the opposition would not attend proposed peace talks in Geneva unless there was a clear time-frame for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to leave power.
Reuters
The Syrian opposition set terms on Sunday for attending peace talks to end the Syrian civil war, in a move that throws the proposed conference into further confusion after the international envoy said there should be no preconditions.
 
The long-delayed talks - known as Geneva 2 - are meant to bring Syria's warring sides to the negotiating table, but have been repeatedly delayed because of disputes between world powers, divisions among the opposition and irreconcilable positions of Assad and the rebels.
 
Syrian National Coalition President Ahmad Jarba said the opposition would not attend unless there was a clear timeframe for President Bashar al-Assad to leave power. He also said they could not accept the presence of Iran.
 
“We have decided not to enter Geneva talks unless it is with dignity, and unless there is a successful transfer of power with a specific timeframe, and without the occupier Iran at the negotiating table,” Jarba told an Arab League emergency meeting of foreign minister in Cairo.
 
Lakhdar Brahimi, the international envoy for Syria, has said he hoped the conference could still be held in the next few weeks despite obstacles.
 
Though he had in the past said he thought Assad would not be part of a transitional government that Geneva 2 would attempt to install, he said on Friday that his opinions had no bearing on the parametres for the conference.
 
There is also discord among world powers over whether Iran should be invited to the talks. Tehran has said it is ready to come and Brahimi says the U.N. preferred that Iran attend but there had been no agreement on that yet.
 
A senior State Department official, speaking ahead of U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry's visit to Cairo and Riyadh, said the top U.S. diplomat would make clear to the Saudis that Iran would not be welcome to attend the Syria peace talks unless it endorsed a past agreement that would see Assad give up power.
 
“Iran has not done that, and without that even we couldn't consider the possibility of their participating,” the official added, stressing: “It is a question of just making sure they understand the details of how firm our position is.”
 
Call for Weapons
 
In Cairo, an Arab League draft communique called on the Syrian opposition to attend the conference.
 
“It [Arab League] decided to call on all sides of the Syrian opposition under the leadership of the Syrian National Coalition ... to accelerate the formation of the negotiating delegation”.
 
In Cairo, Jarba urged world powers to supply Syrians fighting Assad with weapons in the conflict that has so far claimed the lives of more than 100,000 people.
 
“We demand a clear decision on supplying the Syrian people with weapons to fight the hostility which gets worse hour by hour ... We guarantee that these weapons will not fall into the wrong hands,” he said.
 
The growing influence of radical Islamist fighters and the disarray of rebel forces have made Western powers wary of intervening directly in the civil war by supplying weapons or troops.
 
While some rebel tensions stem from contrasting ideological outlooks, most infighting centers around rival claims over the control of territory, smuggling and other spoils of war.
 
Arab and Western officials have said that international powers were unlikely to meet their goal of holding the conference in November.
 
Even if Jarba were to attend the Geneva 2 meetings, he has no authority over the rebel brigades battling to overthrow Assad.
 
The main rebel brigades have announced their opposition to the conference if it does not result in Assad's removal.

You May Like

Sydney Hostage-taker Failed to Manipulate Social Media

Gunman forced captives to use personal Facebook, YouTube accounts to issue his demands; online community helped flag messages, urged others not to share them More

UN Seeks $8.4 Billion to Help War-Hit Syrians

Effort aimed at helping Syrians displaced within their own country and those who've fled to neighboring ones More

Who Are the Pakistani Taliban?

It's an umbrella group of militant organizations whose objective is enforcement of Sharia in Pakistan 'whether through peace or war' More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Putin: Russian Economy to Rebound in 2 Yearsi
X
December 18, 2014 5:13 PM
Russian President Vladimir Putin held his annual end-of-the-year news conference Thursday, tackling questions on the Russian economy, the crisis in Ukraine and Russian relations with the west. VOA's Jeff Custer reports.
Video

Video Putin: Russian Economy to Rebound in 2 Years

Russian President Vladimir Putin held his annual end-of-the-year news conference Thursday, tackling questions on the Russian economy, the crisis in Ukraine and Russian relations with the west. VOA's Jeff Custer reports.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Detained Turkish Journalists Follow Teachings of US-Based Preacher

The Turkish government’s jailing of critical journalists has sparked international condemnation and is being seen as an effort to undermine the followers of an ailing Turkish preacher based in the United States. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video Will Pakistan School Shooting Galvanize Pakistan Against Extremism?

The attack on a military school in Pakistan’s northwest city of Peshawar left 141 dead, including 132 children. Strong statements of condemnation poured in from across the world. The country announced three days of mourning, and the leadership, both political and military, promised retribution. VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem looks at how likely the Pakistani government is to clamp down on all extremist groups.
Video

Video ‘Anti-Islamization’ Marches Increase Tensions In Germany

Anti-immigrant rallies in Germany have been building in recent weeks, peaking Monday night in the city of Dresden where tens of thousands of people turned out to demonstrate against what they call the ‘Islamization’ of the West. Germany has offered asylum to more Syrian refugees than any other country, and this appears to have set off the protests. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.
Video

Video Turkey's Authoritarianism Dismays Western Allies

The Turkish government has been defiant in the face of criticism at home and abroad for its raids targeting opposition media. The European Union on Monday expressed dismay after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan lashed out at Brussels for criticizing his government's action. Turkey's bid to be considered for EU membership has been on hold while critics accuse the NATO ally of increasingly authoritarian rule. Zlatica Hoke reports.

All About America

AppleAndroid