[Marxism] Syrian opposition find common ground at Riyadh peace talks

Paddy Hackett paraichackett at gmail.com
Mon Dec 14 15:16:34 MST 2015


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> On 12 Dec 2015, at 02:01, mkaradjis . via Marxism <marxism at lists.csbs.utah.edu> wrote:
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> - Assad should leave power at the start of a transitional period
> - called for an all-inclusive, democratic civic state
> - also committed to preserving state institutions
> - committed to a political system which "represents all sectors of the
> Syrian people", and would not discriminate on religious or sectarian
> grounds
> Syrian opposition find common ground at Riyadh peace talks
> http://www.france24.com/en/20151210-syrian-rebel-group-pull-out-opposition-talks-riyadh
> © Mandel Ngan, AFP | Adopted in 2011, the the former Syrian flag used
> before the Baathist period has become the emblem of the opposition to
> Bashar al-Assad
> Text by FRANCE 24
> Latest update : 2015-12-10
> The Islamist insurgent group Ahrar al-Sham has signed its name to a
> Syrian opposition statement issued after two days of talks in Riyadh,
> according to a copy of the statement seen by Reuters, despite earlier
> saying it had pulled out of the meeting.
> Political activists and rebel groups gathered for the conference in
> the Saudi Arabian capital agreed to set up a joint body to prepare for
> future peace talks with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's government,
> which world powers proposed at a meeting in Vienna last month.
> Abdulaziz al-Sager, a Saudi who heads the independent Gulf Research
> Centre in Geneva and chaired the meeting, told a news conference that
> an opposition delegation would meet government officials in the first
> 10 days of January.
> A statement at the end of the two-day conference said Assad should
> leave power at the start of a transitional period, and called for an
> all-inclusive, democratic civic state. It also committed to preserving
> state institutions.
> But the Islamist group Ahrar al-Sham formerly said it had pulled out
> of the talks – a move which highlighted the enduring divisions among
> Assad's enemies – objecting to what it said was a prominent role given
> to the internal political opposition group, the National Coordination
> Body for Democratic Change (NCB). It said the NCB was considered to be
> a pro-Assad organisation, not opposition.
> It also said in a statement released on its Twitter account that the
> Saudi conference had not given "real weight to the revolutionary
> factions" either in terms of their representation at the talks or in
> the outcome.
> Several opposition sources later said Ahrar al-Sham returned to the
> conference, but the group did not confirm the move.
> The opposition was willing to enter talks with Syrian government
> representatives and to accept a U.N.-supervised ceasefire, the
> statement said.
> If Ahrar al-Sham had stayed outside the deal, its absence would have
> made any such ceasefire much harder to implement.
> Radical militant groups Islamic State group and Nusra Front, al
> Qaeda's Syria wing, were excluded from the Riyadh talks and would not
> be part of any cease-fire agreement.
> Confidence-building
> The meeting called on the United Nations to pressure the Syrian
> government to make a series of confidence-building moves before peace
> talks start, including suspending death sentences against opponents,
> releasing prisoners and lifting sieges.
> The war pits the Syrian army and allied militias including Lebanese
> Hezbollah fighters backed by Iran and Russia, against an array of
> competing rebel and jihadi fighters, who include Arabs and Kurds.
> Rifts among Assad's opponents have hindered four years of Western
> efforts to mobilise a stronger political and military challenge to the
> president throughout a conflict which has killed 250,000 people and
> driven millions of refugees abroad.
> The meeting came amid escalating conflict in Syria and accelerated
> diplomacy to find a political solution to the war.
> Delegates from Islamist insurgent groups, exiled political opposition
> figures and Damascus-based activists gathered to bridge differences
> which have plagued previous attempts to unite Assad's opponents around
> a common strategy.
> Monzer Akbik, a member of the National Coalition opposition group,
> said the conference agreed to set up a 32-member secretariat to
> oversee and supervise peace talks. The statement said that body would
> select the negotiating team.
> Participants also committed to a political system which "represents
> all sectors of the Syrian people", and would not discriminate on
> religious or sectarian grounds - in a gesture towards minority
> Alawite, Christian and Kurdish populations.
> US Secretary of State John Kerry, speaking in Paris, said the Riyadh
> talks had made progress "but we have some tough issues to get over." A
> possible Dec. 18 meeting to advance the Syrian peace talks in New York
> is "not locked in yet", he added.
> International efforts to resolve the conflict have been lent added
> urgency by a wave of deadly attacks across the world claimed by the
> Iraq- and Syria-based Islamic State and by the escalating refugee flow
> which has caused a crisis in Europe.
> Major powers agreed in Vienna last month to revive diplomatic efforts
> to end the war, calling for peace talks to start by January and
> elections within two years.
> No part for Assad
> The demands that Assad and his lieutenants should play no part in the
> transition to democracy marked a tougher stance than several Western
> countries which back Assad's opponents. The United States, France and
> Britain all called for Assad to step down after protests broke out
> against his rule in March 2011.
> Although they all say Assad ultimately must go, they have been less
> specific about the timing of any departures, indicating that they
> could accept he stay in an interim period.
> Assad's fate was one of several questions left unresolved at the
> Vienna meeting last month which was attended by Russia, the United
> States, European and Middle Eastern countries including Saudi Arabia
> and Iran, which back opposing sides in Syria.
> Saudi Arabia is a main backer of the rebels along with Turkey and
> Western countries. Iran and Russia support Assad.
> Iran has openly criticised the decision by Saudi Arabia to hold the
> talks, saying they were designed to harm the Vienna process. On
> Thursday, Deputy Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian said some
> groups linked to the Islamic State militant group were involved in the
> Riyadh meeting.
> Russia launched air strikes in Syria 10 weeks ago, helping the Syrian
> army - backed by Iranian troops, Hezbollah fighters and allied militia
> - to contain rebel advances.
> Russia says it is bombing Islamic State militants, who control large
> areas of eastern Syria and western Iraq, but Western and Arab states
> which have been carrying out air strikes against Islamic State for
> more than a year say the Russia jets have mainly hit other rebel
> forces in the west of Syria.
> Moscow's intervention has not swung the war decisively Assad's way and
> several Western-backed rebel groups, some of whom were represented in
> Riyadh, have been emboldened by the increased flow of foreign-supplied
> anti-tank missiles which have helped stem parts of the army's
> counter-offensive
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