Dr. Bashar al-Jaafari, head of the delegation of the Syrian Arab Republic to the Syrian-Syrian talks in Geneva, said on Sunday that the Riyadh opposition delegation’s delayed attendance at Geneva, and the fact that the names of its members are unknown, are a sign of its lack of seriousness and responsibility.
In a statement to the press in Geneva, al-Jaafari said that any political solution for the crisis in Syria can’t be achieved without the presence of a serious party to the dialogue process, stressing that the interest of the Syrian people is the compass for the Syrian Arab Republic delegation in Geneva and must be the compass for dialogue.
Al-Jaafari condemned the terrorist bombings that targeted Sayyeda Zainab area in Damascus Countryside earlier on Sunday and claimed the lives of 45 civilians, noting that a terrorist from the so-called “southern front” said they will back the Riyadh delegation with military operations on the ground, which proves what the Syrian government had often stated about the link between the terrorists and their sponsors and operators on one side and some groups that claim to be against terrorism and label themselves as political groups on the other side.
He voiced regret that these bombings mark the beginning of Geneva 3 on which the Syrian government and people are counting to end bloodshed and violence and move forward in a political process that fulfils the aspirations of the Syrian people in preserving Syria’s territory, people, sovereignty, and independence.
Al-Jaafari said that the Syrian Arab Republic delegation came to Geneva in answer to the invitation of UN Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura to participate in indirect Syrian-Syrian dialogue with the goal of launching an inclusive political process as per international resolution no. 2254 without any preconditions or foreign interference, noting that the text of resolution no. 2254 and that of the invitation addressed to the Syrian government have not been respected, referring to the fact that the invitation stated that the dialogue will begin on January 25th, which didn’t happen because the opposition groups’ delegations delayed their arrival, which shows their lack of seriousness and responsibility at a time when Syrians are burdened with terrorist threats and inflammatory statements.
He noted that the many political statements made by the head of the United States Senate Committee on Foreign Relations and the foreign ministers of Britain, France, German, and Italy gives the impression that talks are being held with these states, not with other Syrians, which shows how fragile the position of the other sides are.
“The Syrian Arab Republic delegation believes that any political solution for the crisis in Syria can’t be achieved without the presence of a serious party to the dialogue process that is committed to serious work to realize the interest of the Syrian people alone, and not the interest of regional, Arab, and international capitals,” al-Jaafari said, stressing that the interest of the Syrian people must be the compass for dialogue in Geneva.
“We want to implement what was previously agreed on. We don’t want to start from scratch as that would be a waste of time at the expense of the Syrian people’s pains,” he added, affirming that the Syrian Arab Republic delegation’s primary concern is preserving the higher interest of the Syrian people, and not getting involved in details, trivialities, and absurdities that don’t merit commenting on.
Al-Jaafari said that during the meeting with de Mistura on Friday, the delegation outlined what the Syrian government has done to ease the suffering of the Syrian people despite the unilateral compulsory economic steps that are erroneously called “sanctions” which are imposed by Arab, regional, and international sides, steps that lead to more suffering for Syrians.
“Many who were labeled refugees left the country not because the Syrian government is persecuting them, as some are trying to promote, but rather because they want to lead good lives and seek job opportunities and economic conditions that provide them and their families with decent living. Youths are immigrating and becoming expatriates because of these sanctions and compulsory steps that are imposed on the Syrian people and their economy,” he explained.
Al-Jaafari went on to say that the delegation raised this point with de Mistura and asked him to intervene with the states that impose those steps that violate the UN Charter because they were taken outside the Security Council and the UN General Assembly adopts resolutions each year on the illegal nature of these steps, adding that this isn’t based only on Syria’s viewpoint, but rather on a “legal arsenal” adopted by the UN General Assembly each year that asserts these steps are illegal.
He also said that the delegation stressed to the UN Special Envoy readiness to work for finding a solution to end the crisis as long as there are parties with a serious will to work to that effect by holding dialogue among Syrians, and not by waiting for guarantees and promises from states that are escalating and maintaining the crisis.
Al-Jaafari pointed out that throughout the past five years, the Syrian state did all it could to serve its people, from the humanitarian issue and fighting terrorism to making political initiatives and partaking in any proposition that seeks to end the crisis, adding “the government has proved its good intentions and positive attitude in each time, but the problem has always been with the other party.”
He said that if the other party is serious and keen to stop violence and bloodshed, it should come to Geneva with a national agenda in line with the resolution no. 2254 and the two Vienna statements, which means becoming involved in Syrian-led inter-Syrian dialogue away from preconditions and any foreign interference.
“Up until this moment, we don’t know and nobody knows who the other side is, not even de Mistura and his team. We are using the term ‘oppositions’ instead of ‘opposition’ because we will find before us several delegation, therefore the image isn’t clear in a final manner,” the head of the delegation said.
Al-Jaafari said that certain regional, Arab, and international sides are trying to take things back to square one through insisting on imposing a delegation from the so-called “coalition” which is the same thing that led to a dead end in Geneva 2.
He said the failure to reach a list of the terrorist organizations and opposition groups is a key gap that is yet to be bridged, and that this failure is due to the fact that this task has been entrusted to Saudi Arabia and Jordan, two countries that are not neutral and that sponsor terrorism and are incapable of being objective, stressing that the first priority must be fighting terrorism, and this shouldn’t be circumvented by giving terrorism new names, adding that terrorism is the cause of a large part of the humanitarian issues in Syria, so humanitarian issues cannot be dealt with without dealing with terrorism.
“We will not hold dialogue with terrorists or deal with them, and this is why de Mistura insisted on indirect talks, because we don’t know the names of the opposing delegations,” al-Jaafari said, adding that this is also Russia’s position, explaining that there won’t be negotiations but rather indirect talks in the form of Syrian-Syrian dialogue without preconditions or foreign interference, asserting that those who propose preconditions are violating resolution no. 2254 and the Vienna statements.
“As a government delegation, we have no preconditions to propose to anyone, and we don’t have taboos. We are here to hold dialogue over any issue raised via de Mistura. Meanwhile, those who talk about preconditions are amateurs in politics and it means that they are coming to the Geneva meeting to undermine it, and that they aren’t keen on the success of the Syrian-Syrian dialogue. It is also a sign of a fragile mentality, a lack of political experience, and lack of understanding of the resolution no. 2254 and the Vienna statements,” he said.
Al-Jaafari said the Syrian Arab Republic delegation has comprehensive knowledge of the pressing humanitarian issues which will be part of the dialogue, adding “we’re not bargaining over the fate of Syrians, and when we talk about the humanitarian issue, we don’t base our judgment on the bartering principle as the other side does. All the abductees and missing people and those whose families are inquiring about are an issue for all Syrians.”
“If the other side controls land in Syria, then they should tell us where are the abductees from Lattakia countryside, Adra al-Umaliya, Deir Ezzor, and other areas,” he added.
In response to a question on what is being called a transitional governing body, al-Jaafari said that the resolution no. 2254 doesn’t mention such a body or an expanded national government; rather it talks of credible rule, something which is subject to Syrian-Syrian dialogue.
He asserted that the Syrian government will continue to enforce the rule of law and confront terrorists, and it won’t wait for others to do that because this is the duty of the government, adding that the compliance of terrorism-sponsoring states – mainly Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and Israel – with international resolutions on counter-terrorism is essential for the progress of the political solution.
“How can a terrorist from Australia or Chechnya or any other country become moderate opposition?” Al-Jaafari wondered, adding that the Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has arrested several officers, security personnel, prosecutors, and two journalists and accused them of treason for exposing the matter of the trucks carrying weapons which he sent to terrorists in Syria whom Erdogan labels “moderate opposition.”