Interview: Syrian opposition "unwise" for pulling out of Geneva talks

2016-04-21 14:18:27 GMT2016-04-21 22:18:27(Beijing Time) Xinhua English

DAMASCUS, April 21 (Xinhua) -- Syria's Higher Negotiation Committee (HNC) opposition group has suspended its participation in the current Syrian talks in Geneva.

The HNC's decision is "unwise," an independent opposition figure told Xinhua during an interview on Wednesday.

"The Syrian crisis needs patience as it's extremely complicated and unruly due to the involvement of several sides, and the HNC should not withdraw nor suspend its participation in the Geneva talks, and I think this is unwise," Munther Khaddam told Xinhua.

The Saudi-backed HNC announced it was suspending its participation in the talks on Tuesday.

HNC coordinator, Riad Hijab, said his group refuses any solution that could prolong the Syrian regime of President Bashar Al-Assad.

Qatar's Al-Jazeera TV channel said the HNC opposition group was leaving Geneva on Thursday.

"If the Saudi-backed opposition group attended the talks to pressure Russia and the Syrian regime, then I believe their approach was irrational," Khaddam said.

Concerning the repercussions of the opposition's withdrawal from the talks, Khaddam expects the international community to exert increased pressure on the waring sides in Syria to maintain the negotiations "As international powers supporting the talks don't want to see the collapse of the Geneva talks."

Current reports emerging from the opposition indicate that their resentment springs from several issues, the first being the HNC's demand for a transitional period in Syria without Al-Assad, which the Syrian government responded to by imposing a redline on discussions of Al-Assad and the Syrian presidency.

The Syrian government wants to establish a "national unity government" with participation from the opposition however.

The HNC and the exiled opposition want a "Transitional governing body" with full executive authority in order to lead the country towards a solution.

So Al-Assad's fate was the problematic issue in the talks which couldn't be agreed upon.

Khaddam said the Syrian sides "Are inexperienced negotiators, which negatively backfires on reaching common grounds for solutions to other problems."

Khaddam held an adamant stance concerning the opposition groups towards "Regional powers supporting those groups. We know that the HNC is backed and fully supported by Saudi Arabia, so they are basically echoing Saudi's stance towards Al-Assad's government."

"Foreign interference in the talks negatively affects efforts towards a political solution in Syria," he said.

Meanwhile, Khaddam asserted that the Syrian crisis cannot be resolved by military means "As this will lead to further destruction which is why our only hope is for wisdom from both sides in order to reach a solution without foreign interference."

"If foreign interference doesn't stop, and if the United States doesn't pressure the opposition, there will be no political solution," he said.

Khaddam said the United States and Russia must play a stronger role towards convincing the warring sides in Syria to reconcile, stressing that the collapse of the Syrian state is in no one's interest.

"A potential collapse of the Syrian state would lead to regional chaos and I am sure neither the United States nor Russia want that."

Khaddam also stressed that regional countries, mainly Turkey, must stop militants from infiltrating Syria via its borders.

Syria's Prime Minister, Wael al-Halqi, said on Thursday that the Turkish government allowed over 5,000 armed rebels to enter Syria through Turkey.

The head of the Syrian delegation to the intra-Syrian dialogue in Geneva, Bashar al-Jaafari, said on Wednesday that discussions can still proceed between the government delegation and opposition parties, even if the "Riyadh opposition" group wants to suspend its participation.

"There are several opposition groups present who are supportive of sustaining the talks. However, those who want to withdraw upon instructions received from foreign powers must assume responsibility for their actions," said al-Jaafari.

"The Al-Riyadh opposition delegation has been causing problems since the beginning of the process in Geneva and threatened to suspend or postpone the talks whilst they await orders from their Saudi Arabian, Turkish and Qatari supporters," al-Jaafari added.

He noted that this is political procrastination according to the United Nation's definition: they delay so as to "Totally annihilate the talks."

On the other hand, the HNC has been resolute in expressing it unwillingness to compromise its stance towards the incumbent president.

"There cannot be a political solution which prolongs this regime," said Hijab, demanding a clear timetable be implemented in order to address the political process.

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