Syrian oppositions arrive in Riyadh for unified stance

Syrian opposition groups arrive in capital of Saudi Arabia to talk over union of forces against possible future talks with Syrian regime

Photo by: AFP (Archive)
Photo by: AFP (Archive)

Members of the Syrian opposition in Aleppo

Syrian opposition groups arrived in Riyadh, the capital of Saudi Arabia on Monday over seeking to join forces against the embattled Assad regime in Syria.  

The talks will continue for three days in Riyadh and it is believed that the meeting will be a very effective attempt since the civil war broke out.

Adel al-Jubeir, Saudi Arabia's foreign minister, announced last week that Saudi Arabia has been in touch with several Syrian opposition groups with the intention of inviting them to the talks.

"Riyadh is trying to bring as broad a cross-section of Syrian opposition groups as possible," Jubeir said and added that the conference will not include DAESH, which the United States and its allies are waging air strikes against in both Iraq and Syria. Al-Qaeda affiliated Nusra front will not be included as well.

The main opposition groups are the Syrian National Coalition, the National Coordination Body, Syria opposition fighters and other independent groups.

Free Syrian Army rebel groups will also join the meeting. The group has been also supported by the United States with foreign military aid such as anti-tank missiles which have been supplied since the Russian military intervention in Syria on Sept. 30.

"It is the first time there is a meeting in Saudi - a meeting of soldiers and politicians - and it has a greater chance of success because Saudi is hosting it," said the head of one of the FSA groups.

"Saudi is a pivotal state in the region and for it to take this step - to host a conference of the Syrian opposition factions - certainly something real will result from it."

"Trying to get those two poles to agree to the same platform and to negotiate as one unit is going to prove very difficult if not impossible, it's not entirely clear to me whether it is even advisable," said Noah Bonsey, a senior analyst with the International Crisis Group.

The Syrian National Coalition, headed by Khaled Khoja, told Al Jezire and indicated that the Syrian regime would not be a part of any peace talks or transitional government in Syria.

He said, "We need to prepare for the transitional period that we hope Syria will go through soon. We want to prove to the international community that keeps criticising our efforts to unite, that we can agree and move forward with one goal.”

“That is the aim of the Riyadh talks. We want to prove we can unite."

Riyadh talks annoy PYD and Iran

PYD, which is affiliated with the PKK terror organisation that is controlling a large part of northern Syria, has not been invited to the meeting like DAESH and Al-Qaeda affiliated Nusra front. Some members of the PYD in Syria criticised the Saudi attempt and said the talks would be "doomed to fail."

Iran also announced that they will be against the Riyadh talks with Syrian opposition groups and claimed the meeting would negatively affect the Vienna peace talks and would not achieve its aim.

“The meeting in Riyadh ... will cause the failure of Vienna peace talks on Syria and it is not part of Vienna agreement,” Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian told Fars.

The Vienna process has plans for a formal meeting between the Syrian government and the opposition until January 1.

Ali Akbar Velayati, the top foreign policy adviser to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, declared on Sunday that Assad's fate was a “red line” for Iran and the future of Assad could only be decided by the Syrian people.

During the nearly five-year conflict, the disunity amongst Syrian opposition factions has been one of the main reasons behind the failure to reach a long-sought political solution in the war-torn nation.

Saudi Arabia is a staunch critic of the Assad regime and a supporter of opposition groups seeking to topple it.

Tehran and Moscow are both essential in their support to Assad's regime, while Turkey, the United States, Saudi Arabia and their Western and Gulf allies are against the Assad regime.

The four-year-long war in Syria has so far claimed the lives of at least 350,000 people, while displacing half of the country's pre-war population of 22 million internally and in the neighbouring countries of Turkey, Lebanon, Egypt, Iraq and Jordan. At least 350,000 refugees have also sought asylum in European countries.

According to Syrian Network for Human Rights (SNHR) sources, between March 2011 and October 31, 2015, more than 188,000 civilians were killed including nearly 40.000 women and children, large numbers of whom lost their lives during air strikes and barrel bombings in civilian areas by the Syrian regime.



TRTWorld and agencies