Riad Hijab, General Coordinator of the opposition’s High Negotiations Committee (HNC) criticized remarks made by the UN special envoy to Syria Staffan de Mistura about his intention to interfere in the formation of the opposition delegation to the upcoming Geneva talks. Hijab called on the UN envoy to focus on the agenda of negotiations instead.
In comments posted on Twitter on Wednesday, Hijab stressed that “selecting the Syrian Opposition delegation is not the business or specialism of De Mistura.” He added: “De Mistura’s preoccupation should be to determine the agenda of negotiations based on the Geneva 1 Communique.”
The UN special envoy for Syria on Tuesday said he has asked the UN Security Council to postpone the UN-facilitated talks that had been scheduled for 8 February in Geneva until 20 February.
The HNC spokesman Salem Meslet said that the decision to postpone the talks does not serve the interest of the Syrian people or the oppositions’ preparations for the talks. He said that the decision was made in response to a request by the Assad regime’s allies.
At a press conference following a closed UNSC session on Tuesday, De Mistura said that “if by the 20th of February, the opposition will not be ready to come up with a unified group, I will have…to apply what I have not yet applied, which is a prerogative that the UNSC 2254 gave for the special envoy to actually select the [opposition] delegation in order to make sure that it can be as inclusive as possible, including women-which has not been the case-and as effectively representing the spectrum of both armed groups and the political opposition.”
Meanwhile, the Assad regime carries on with the mass forced displacement operations aimed at bringing about a demographic change in Syria. Local residents in the Wadi Barada valley northwest of Damascus have been forced to leave to Idlib province in the wake of a fierce assault by regime forces and the Hezbollah militias, which the UN envoy has ignored. (Source: Syrian Coalition’s Media Office)