The High Negotiations Committee (HNC) on Saturday evening approved a planned working paper to be presented in its meetings with Syrian contact group nations in London on Wednesday, September 7. This comes two days after discussions in Riyadh to agree to a united vision for the opposition to resolve the crisis in Syria. Syrian opposition sources said that the negotiations committee approved a final working paper during its evening session, adding that those assembled stressed the need to keep President Bashar al-Assad out of any coming transitional stage. The sources said that the committee developed a detailed scenario for what is required by the transitional stage and determining the fate of the political situation to save the Syrian people.
Among the working paper’s most important items is to begin the transitional stage by setting up a transitional governing authority after the departure of Assad and his regime, which will extend for 18 months. The draft also proposes that the transitional governing authority form a joint military council under its authority, which would include representatives from the revolutionary forces and the regime army “who have not stained their hands with Syrian blood.” The transitional governing authority from the moment of its establishment will have “the right to be assisted by the international community in fighting sectarian militias, mercenary groups and terrorist organizations with a two-thirds approval,” according to the draft.
The draft also stipulated that the start of the traditional phase would coincide with the issuance of a resolution from the UN Security Council of preventing any military action on Syrian territory, “with the exception of fighting sectarian militias, mercenary groups and terrorist organizations specified in the Security Council resolutions.” The draft adheres to the unity of Syria and its right to restore occupied areas by all legitimate means. It considers the Kurdish issue in Syria to be a national issue, and stipulates working toward guaranteeing regional, linguistic and cultural rights to Kurdish citizens constitutionally, and canceling all measures and resolutions of expropriation which have been made for non-Syrians since mid-March 2011.
The general coordinator for the HNC, Riyad Hijab, said that any role for Bashar Assad or his ruling clique would be rejected in the transitional phase, which was to lead to a new future for Syria. After meeting with the special Chinese envoy to Syria, Xie Xiaoyan, and officials in the Chinese Foreign Ministry, Hijab said in a statement that the Assad regime, “has not complied with these resolutions and has allied with a large number of militias to carry out military operations against Aleppo in an attempt to empty it of its original inhabitants.” Hijab informed the Chinese envoy of the HNC’s position regarding “the unity of Syrian territory, the unity of its social fabric, a political solution, pluralistic governance which preserves state institutions, and that Bashar Assad and all those who have committed crimes have no role in the transitional stage.”
Hijab also stressed the “commitment of the committee to a political solution in accordance with the Geneva declaration and the resolutions of the council, especially resolutions 2118 and 2254,” adding that the HNC “has since the beginning worked seriously and positively toward a political solution in Syria.” He noted that “beginning a new round of negotiations needs a clear schedule towards a political transitions and to implement the UN resolutions, as well as delivering humanitarian aid, releasing prisoners, and easing the return of displaced.” Hijab stressed that, “The Syrian people want to live in freedom and security, without extremism, war, dictatorship, tyranny, and terrorist organizations,” declaring: “We want a Syria without foreign forces.” He called on China to play a bigger role through its permanent membership in the Security Council to guarantee the realization of a political transition in Syria “without delay.”
Earlier today, the High Negotiations Committee spokesman, Riyad Naasan Agha told Al Jazeera that the committee had presented the first draft of the working paper to segments of Syrian society and received feedback on it. Based on this feedback the committee made some amendments, and then approved — in a meeting on Friday — the final draft of its vision for a political solution. Agha, speaking from the site of the meeting held in Riyadh, said that despite the differences in viewpoints between members of the committee during the discussions, the final draft was approved unanimously.
He said before the meeting that it would study the current political situation and the bloody events occurring in Syria and then it would have to meet with supporting nations.
Agha said UN envoy de Mistura would not be present, but he would be presented with the committee’s vision of the transitional phase, because it would be a document for any coming negotiations. He said that the possibility of reaching a political solution was not an issue of optimism or pessimism, and that the current international situation was very complicated. Agreements were being discussed between Washington and Moscow regarding Syria without any representatives from the Syrian opposition present, said Agha, adding that it was therefore hard to predict the future without clarity of vision among the supporting countries. Agha went on to say that the opposition is waiting for nations of the community to announce what they have agreed to around Syria, despite the fact that the issue is related to Syria and that the HNC will need to be partners in whatever is agreed upon.
At the end of its meetings the Committee published a press statement which Syria Press obtained a copy of. It said that the HNC had approved during their meeting which began on Friday, September 2, the executive framework for a political solution in Syria. The statement added that the Committee, which includes all the political and revolutionary Syrian forces, considered a political solution the first strategic option to be adopted, so as to achieve the aspirations of the Syrian people, who want to safeguard their freedom and dignity, and in accordance with the Geneva 1 declaration and Resolutions 2118 and 2254, which provide for establishing a fully-empowered transitional governing body without any role for Assad and those who have carried out crimes against the Syrian people, in the transitional stage.
The Committee continued, saying: “In the time that we are working seriously with the United Nations to develop an executive framework for the international resolutions to decrease the suffering of the Syrian people, the Assad regime continues its series of crimes against our people, using internationally-banned weapons, such as napalm and phosphorus bombs and cluster bombs, in addition to chemical weapons, as proved by the United Nations report. The regime has not stopped its attempts to achieve demographic change through forced displacement, and this is what is undermining opportunities for the solution we are working toward in partnership with the United Nations.” The Committee ended its statement by calling on the UN to carry out its responsibilities toward the crimes which have been carried out by this unjust regime and to end its violations and to guarantee the implementation of international resolutions, while stressing the need to develop a schedule to carry out these resolutions.
This article was translated and edited by The Syrian Observer. Responsibility for the information and views set out in this article lies entirely with the author.