Syrian opposition hesitant about attending peace talks

Saudi-backed opposition meets in Riyadh, unsure about attending peace talks set to start on Friday

Photo by: Reuters (Archive)
Photo by: Reuters (Archive)

Syrian opposition members attend a news conference, ahead of new round of crisis talks in Vienna on Saturday, in Moscow on November 12, 2015

Updated Jan 27, 2016

The Syrian opposition is having second thoughts on whether it would go to the peace talks that are due to start on January 29, questioning the UN’s diplomatic efforts, as it blamed the United States for considering unacceptable Iranian and Russian ideas for easing the conflict.

The Saudi-backed opposition met in Riyadh on Tuesday to decide whether or not to attend the talks, as opposition official Asaad al Zoubi told Arab media that he was pessimistic.

"It was not comfortable for us, for America - even in theory or partially - to adopt what came in the Iranian and Russian initiatives," Zoubi said in the interview.

The opposition comprising the recently formed High Negotiations Committee (HNC) has repeatedly said that the government and its allies must stop bombardments and lift blockades of besieged areas before they will go to any talks.

Zoubi, told Reuters that without the implementation of goodwill steps, including release of detainees, "there will be no negotiations."

He also criticised the UN envoy, Staffan de Mistura, saying he "cannot impose conditions" on the opposition.

Backed by Russia and Iran, the Syrian government, has already said it will attend.

The first talks in two years to end the Syrian civil war were meant to begin last week, but have been held up in part by a dispute over who should represent the opposition to the Syrian regime leader Bashar al Assad.

Meanwhile, the United Nations invited Syria's government and opposition to peace talks, according to a statement released on Tuesday.

Some of the people that Russia backed to attend proposed peace talks over Syria said they got invitations to the talks from the United Nations.

"I have been invited, and Haitham Manaa, Saleh Muslim, Ilham Ahmed and Qadri Jamil. We were invited individually," Randa Kassis, president of the Movement of the Pluralistic Society, told Reuters.

Saleh Muslim is one of the leaders of the Syrian Kurdish PYD. When contacted, Muslim said he had yet to be invited, as Haitham Manaa confirmed to Reuters he had been invited.

"We will be invited, but we still don't know in what position," Muslim told Reuters earlier on Tuesday.

Russia's insistence of PYD being included in Syrian peace talks is heavily criticised by Turkey.

Turkey along with the United States and the European Union, recognises PYD as a terrorist group that is affiliated with the PKK.

TRTWorld, Reuters