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Western officials disappoint opposition over Assad's future: Interview

Interviews | 2017-10-03 01:06:26
Western officials disappoint opposition over Assad's future: Interview
 By Abdullah Ghadawi

(Zaman Al Wasl)- Representative of the Syrian National Coalition in Washington has revealed the outcomes of the opposition’s High Negotiation Committee visit with Western officials followed the Regular Session of the U.N. General Assembly in September.

Najib Ghadban said the European Union general coordinator, Federica Moghrini, appeared more lenient with the Assad regime by proposing the reconstruction project of Syria in regime-controlled areas. He is still hard on Assad. Al-Ghadban confirmed that the American stance regarding Assad is still strict.

He pointed out that Russia has not changed its stance concerning political process in Syria, indicating that it still considers Assad stay in the transitional period and even Assad run for the presidential elections. 

More in the interview:

Z: How do you evaluate the public relations tour conducted by the delegation of the High Committee for Negotiations in New York?

N: A good and important tour in emphasizing the position of the committee of the fundamentals of the revolution, and we felt inflexibility in the American stance and some leniency in the European stance while the Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Gavusoglu stressed the stability of the Turkish position on Syria as well.

Z: Has the committee received promises of assistance and support from the United Nations, the European Union or other countries?

N: There was no direct financial support for the High Committee for Negotiations, but some EU organizations confirmed that they will continue to support even in areas controlled by Hayat Tahrir al-Sham.

Z: Everyone is wondering about the American stance regarding Syria. What is the truth of this stance?

N: I do not think that the American stance has weakened in Syria. Washington stressed that the reconstruction project, which is being talked about by the EU general coordinator Federica Mogherini is linked to the political transition in the last meeting of "friends of Syria" in New York. However, Moghrini stance is lenient towards working on reconstruction as a start in regime-controlled areas.

Z: Did America authorize Russia in Syria?

N: There is official basis for this perception, but there are analyzes which considers this to be true and in terms of the American position and through our follow-up to what is happening here in Washington, on the contrary, Washington has a firmer position regarding Assad.

Z: In your opinion, what is America's strategy in Syria?

N: I think Washington wants to exhaust all Syrian forces to impose a solution. It does not want to pay a heavy price in the Syrian conflict, except for its priority to fight ISIS.

Z: Could there be American-Iranian-Russian coordination in Syria?

N: This is unlikely in the United States, they can work together with Russia in Syria, but with Iran it does not seem possible especially as U.S. President Donald Trump began to escalate against Iran in his last speech at the General Assembly.

Z: What about tracking down the symbols of the regime involved in war crimes?

N: In this case, good progress has been achieved especially in the General Assembly. For the first time, the the General Assembly is dealing with this type of crimes. It adopted the framework of collecting documents on war crimes and coordination between all that was reached in this framework. Now it is in the stage of creating a mechanism for accountability especially since a veto was taken in the Security Council to lift Assad's crimes to the International Criminal Court. The emphasis was placed on Western countries accountability to the opposition before the regime in order to push these countries to work in this direction.

Z: Is working with the General Assembly effective regarding taking Assad to trial?

N: Yes, it is possible for the General Assembly to establish a special tribunal, its modus operandi is with States dealing with the General Assembly, as well as cases against the regime in many European courts.

Z: What are the outcomes of Riyadh 2 conference?

N: The truth is that no one has a vision of Riyadh 2 so Saudi Arabia seems to have a complete vision of what is to be achieved in Riyad 2.

Z: Are there international guarantees beyond Riyadh 2 to be a serious and binding negotiation with the regime?

N: This specific question was discussed with UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres who invited us to work with the Moscow platform. 

He said that he was working in his country in Portugal with the opposition with which he does not very much in agreement. Our response was that the problem is not about working with the opposition from any other current but the problem is working with an opposition similar to the regime and perhaps it is the regime itself.

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