The opposition’s High Negotiations Committee (HNC) confirmed it will participate in the upcoming round of negotiations due to take place in Geneva on, March 14, 2016. It said the decision to participate spring from its commitment to support sincere international efforts aimed at ending the bloodshed and find a political solution in Syria.
In a statement released earlier today, HNC said that that its negotiating delegation will focus their efforts on the agenda outlined by the Committee. This agenda includes negotiating on the basis of the Geneva Communiqué (2012) and other international agreements calling for the establishment of a transitional governing body with full executive powers; the preservation of Syria’s territorial integrity; the preservation of state institutions whilst restructuring security and military institutions; rejection of all forms of terrorism and the establishment of a pluralistic system that represents all segments of the Syrian society; where Bashar al-Assad and his clique have no role in any future political arrangements.
The HNC has reaffirmed that it has not set preconditions for their participation in the upcoming negotiations. However, it stressed the need to act in accordance with international resolutions and for the immediate unconditional adherence to these resolutions.
The HNC has pointed out that the main obstacle to the implementation of these resolutions is the Assad regime and its allies as they continue to flout UN resolutions, especially articles 12, 13 and 14 of UN Security Council resolution 2254 (2015), which called for: lifting blockades on besieged areas; providing access for humanitarian assistance to all those in need; releasing detainees and prisoners of conscience and unlawfully detained people, with particular emphasis on women and children; halting bombardments against civilians and civilian targets; the cessation of indiscriminate use of weapons, including artillery and aerial bombardment; and finally, the return of refugees and displaced persons to their homes.
The temporary truce has not succeeded in accomplishing any of these objectives. Therefore, the international community must be clear and forthwith in their resolve to relieve the suffering of the Syrian people, who continue to face aerial bombardment, a punishing siege, brutal arbitrary detention and forced displacement, the HNC’s statement added.
In response to questions about the effectiveness of participation in the planned negotiations despite repeated violations of the truce by Assad and continued suffering of the Syrian people, the General Coordinator of the HNC Riad Hijab said: “We’re not testing the intentions of the regime and its allies. We are fully aware of the crimes they have committed and their preparations for further ground and aerial escalation in the period ahead. However, our concern for the moment is representing the just cause of the Syrian people on the international arena, and to take advantage of every opportunity to alleviate the suffering of the Syrian people. We believe that the humanitarian, political and military tracks should be separated. It is indefensible to bargain with the suffering of the Syrian people in exchange for political advantage.”
Hijab played down the chances of reaching an agreement “given that the regime is continuing to exploit the suffering of the Syrian people to avoid inevitable outcomes of the political process.” Hijab highlighted the fact that the Assad regime continues to follow the same hostile policy pursued at negotiations held in 2014. The Special Envoy to Syria Lakhdar Brahimi attributed the failure of the negotiations then to the regime’s tactics and refusal to discuss the points included in the negotiating agenda.
Hijab said: “It is clear the regime continues unabated in its campaign of war crimes and violates the fundamental rights of the Syrian people in an effort to derail the political process and to exclude the revolution and the opposition from a diplomatic, political track. The regime shifted the narrative to Daesh, despite the fact that there was clear collusion between this terrorist organization and the Assad regime itself.” (Source: Syrian Coalition)