Russian arrogance behind Syria talks collapse

Russian arrogance behind Syria talks collapse

February 07, 2016
Mohammed Alloush
Mohammed Alloush

GENEVA — The main Syrian opposition group is unlikely to return to Geneva to take part in indirect peace talks because of Syria and Russia’s “arrogant” and “merciless” bombing campaign, its chief negotiator said.

Mohammed Alloush, who represents the powerful Army of Islam group, told The Associated Press that the opposition did not withdraw from the UN-sponsored talks in Geneva because it “didn’t want to get blamed” for their failure. However, he added that they could not return to the negotiating table while the bombing continued.

UN Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura announced Wednesday there would be a “temporary pause” in the indirect peace negotiations between the government and opposition, saying the process will resume Feb. 25.

The announcement came as Syrian troops and their allies intensified their offensive, capturing several areas in the northern Syrian province of Aleppo and ending a more than three-year siege of two Shiite villages.

Alloush said that the Syrian government and Russia, who has been carrying out air strikes in support of its ally since Sept. 30, were behind the failure of the talks.

“The reason behind the collapse of the talks in Geneva was the arrogance of the Syrian regime and the arrogance of the merciless Russian air strikes on civilians,” said Alloush at his Geneva hotel.

The Russian Defense Ministry said its warplanes hit 875 targets in Syria this week, including in the area of the government offensive.

Alloush said that the main opposition group, the High Negotiations Committee, would not come “as long as the situation remains the same.”

“The political process will not be launched as long as Russia, the regime and Iran want to win militarily the battle on the ground,” he added.

However, he said that although the Syrian government and Russia’s military intervention is increasing “the pain of Syrians,” he did not believe they would be able to achieve a decisive military victory in Syria, pointing to how the balance of power has shifted regularly since the war broke out in March 2011.

The peace talks in Geneva had a rocky start this week — with both the government and opposition denying that they had even formally begun.
The HNC has demanded an end to Syrian and Russian bombardment, a lifting of sieges imposed on 18 rebel-held areas and the release of political detainees, including women and children.

The opposition says none of these conditions have been met, other than a small concession by government to allow two dozen trucks carrying emergency aid to enter two besieged suburbs of the capital earlier this week. — AP

February 07, 2016