The Syrian Opposition Coalition, the opposition umbrella group that the U.S. recognizes as the sole legitimate representative of the Syrian people, issued a newsletter today that sheds some light on its stance toward "Geneva 2," a summit scheduled for next month in hopes of finding a diplomatic solution to the Syrian conflict.
For months, the coalition has given conflicting statements about whether it would attend such a summit and has issued various preconditions to talks. The group has agreed in principle to the talks with the regime, and in the newsletter today declared itself "the sole representative leading the opposition's negotiation team at the Geneva 2 conference."
That last part raises some serious questions, most importantly whether that means the armed opposition would be excluded from the table or at what level the rebels would be represented.
Neither the political nor military "moderate" opposition holds great sway inside Syria's rebel-held territories - the civilian leaders are exiles and labeled "hotel revolutionaries,' while the fighting corps has seen some its biggest militias leave to join new rival Islamist alliances. But of the two, the fighting corps enjoys more on-the-ground legitimacy and it would be difficult to see how the armed factions would be left out.
In addition, the coalition's leader, Ahmed Jarba, listed several conditions for the group to send a delegation to Geneva 2, the goal of which is to establish a transitional governing body with full executive authority. In other words, President Bashar Assad's negotiated ouster.
Here are Jarba's other conditions, which he's listed previously at various times:
- Releasing prisoners.
- Lifting the siege from besieged areas and allowing the entry of relief items.
- Halting all use of ballistic missiles, cluster bombs, and fighter jets on civilian areas.
- The exit of Hezbollah’s forces and Iranian Revolutionary Guard troops from Syria.
- Renewing Syrian passports outside Syria without conditions.
- A public announcement from Assad about his commitment to the implementation of the Geneva 1 provisions.
- A declaration by the regime to accept a transition of power to an interim government body with executive powers, including presidential powers, written in the constitution including the legislative and executive branches.
- All sides agree that the transitional government body is the only source of legitimate laws in Syria and any future elections should be organized by the transitional government body.
- Any agreement must be enforceable with a guarantee from the Security Council and with a decision facilitated under Chapter VII.
- There must be a specific time frame for the political transition process.
- Officials and those responsible for war crimes against humanity should be removed from power and held accountable.”