By Ibrahim Hamidi
A high-profile Western official told al-Hayat yesterday that there is an American-Russian understanding on the need to form "a transitional governing body with full executive powers to supervise the army and security forces", stressing the importance of representing the Islamic forces in the opposition's delegation to the upcoming Geneva II conference.
The official said that the representatives of "the hard core" (consisting of 11 countries) of the Friends of Syria group have convinced the Syrian National Coalition, during a meeting in Istanbul yesterday, of the importance of attending the conference in Geneva. The representatives promised the opposition that it will get "full support" from its allies, and "we will not accept" the Syrian regime's efforts to change the priorities of the conference into ‘fighting terrorism’.”
The official said that the representatives of the 11 countries met with the leadership of the Coalition and delivered a message to them: that they understand the difficulty in the decision, but that they recommend participation to show that there is a moderate opposition, and to weaken the regime’s position.
Al-Hayat also learned that British Foreign Secretary William Hague told the president of the Coalition, Ahmad Jarba, during a meeting in Paris last week that if the Coalition decided not to participate it would have a negative effect on relations between the two parties, while American Secretary of State John Kerry said that refusing to participate would "ruin" their support for the Coalition.
Al-Hayat also learned that Jarba sent a message to UN chief Ban Ki-Moon, which accepted the text of the invitation which said that the conference was aimed at forming a transitional body with full executive powers over the army and security forces. The message also said that the Coalition will deal positively with the participation issue and will vote on it.
The Coalition discussed with the Coordination Commission for Democratic Change its decision to boycott the international conference, trying to convince the Coordination of joining a "common delegation" to Geneva II. The official said that the "Kurdish Democratic Union" will not be part of opposition's delegation because "all the evidence show its alliance with the regime".
Western officials told Jarba yesterday that the Syrian government made a mistake when it "challenged" the interpretation included in the United Nation's invitation message. This gave the opposition the chance to take a positive decision to attend Geneva II. The official mentioned that there is an American-Russian understanding on the interpretation of the Geneva I declaration, from June 2012, which was included in the invitation message. The two parties have agreed that the priority is for the formation of a transitional body with full executive powers over the army and security forces. "We will not accept an inch of change in priorities", the official said.
The western official said that the US, France and Britain "feel comfortable about Iran's absence, as Iran didn’t declare clearly its commitment to Geneva II goals and the Geneva I declaration". "Russia should place more stress on the regime to open humanitarian aid corridors and release detainees", the official added.
Translated and edited by The Syrian Observer