Syrian Opposition Demands Timeframe for Assad's Exit
The Syrian National Coalition, the Western-backed Syrian opposition umbrella group, has listed a timeframe for President Bashar Al-Assad to cede power as one of its conditions to attend a proposed Geneva II conference aimed to solve the 32-month civil war, reports Al Arabiya.
“We have decided not to enter Geneva talks unless it is with dignity, and unless there is a successful transfer of power with a specific timeframe, and without the occupier Iran at the negotiating table,” Reuters quoted coalition head Ahmed al-Jarba as saying on Sunday at an Arab League emergency meeting in Cairo.
He also said the Iran-backed Lebanese Shiite terrorist group, Hezbollah, who is fighting alongside Syrian forces against rebels, should be blacklisted.
Additionally, he called for the Iraqi Shiite militia Abu Fadhel al-Abbas, which is also battling against the rebels, to be listed as terrorist group.
“We do not accept negotiations when Scud missiles, explosive barrels are continuing, and when more people are being detained?” Jarba said.
Jarba pleaded the Arab League states to provide rebels with arms, said his group can “guarantee that it won’t fall in the wrong hands.”
Western countries, including the United States, have long been doubtful on whether to arm the rebels, fearing that the weapons might be seized by Al-Qaeda-linked groups, such as the Al-Nusra Front, which has pledged allegiance to Al-Qaeda chief Ayman al-Zawahiri.
“What are you waiting for, for Syrians to shed more blood? When more women are raped?” Jarba said.
He appealed for more help from Arab states, saying that the international community has become “paralyzed.”
The United Nations envoy to Syria Lakhdar Brahimi has said there would be no pre-conditions for the long-delayed peace talks, but the Syrian opposition keeps on reiterating its conditions.
The talks are meant to bring Syria’s opposing sides to the negotiating table, but have been repeatedly delayed because of disputes between world powers, divisions among the opposition and the irreconcilable positions of Assad and the rebels.
“We want to come as a unified group,” Jarba said, in reference to criticism that the Syrian opposition is not united.
The Syrian National Council, a key group within the National Council, has said it would not attend proposed peace talks in Geneva and would quit the Coalition if it participated.
This group was later followed by nearly 70 rebels groups which declared that the SNC had failed and announced they no longer recognize the Western-backed group.
This week, 19 Islamist groups fighting to topple Assad declared that attending peace talks or negotiating with the regime would be an act of betrayal.
Assad, meanwhile, has declared that foreign support for rebels must stop for peace to take place in the war-battered country.
Assad also told Brahimi in a meeting last week that a peaceful solution to the Syrian crisis cannot be dictated by foreign powers.