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Muallem: Mouaz al-Khatib Has No Authority on the Ground

According to Al-Akhbar, Muallem is pessimisic towards the two initiatives
Muallem: Mouaz al-Khatib Has No Authority on the Ground

The Syrian embassy in Beirut held a dinner Wednesday evening attended by figures from the Lebanese March 8 movement and the Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Muallem, who stressed that Syria is considering the Russian ideas about a dialogue, but will act according to its own interests, regardless of any pressure or temptations.


Al-Akhbar newspaper, which published the news, said that Muallem and his team will present Syrian ideas about the solution to the Russian side, without providing further details. Muallem said he will ask for more details regarding the Russian initiative on the organization of a dialogue between the government and a group of Syrian dissidents, and is keen to report the viewpoint of President Bashar al-Assad to Putin.


According to Al-Akhbar, Muallem has not attempted to hide his pessimism towards this initiative, because the figures which he communicated with Moscow, including Mouaz al-Khatib, "have no authority on the ground".


"Khatib was the imam of a mosque in Damascus," he said, adding that "it does not make sense that the regime will negotiate with any figure calling itself an "opposition figure". But the Syrian reading for the Russian move says that it is an attempt to impose a new equation that may contribute to the creation of a change in the international political scene.


The initiative presented by the Italian diplomat Staffan de Mistura, the United Nations special envoy to Syria, was also raised during the dinner.


According to quotes attributed to Muallem, "Syria does not mind this initiative, but who has authority over more than 19 armed organizations fighting in the east of Aleppo? What are the real goals of this initiative in light of the qualitative progress made by the Syrian army out there?  Who does it serve? Damascus understands all these questions well, and it will act according to its own interests, regardless of any pressure or temptation.".


The Al-Akhbar report, headlined "Turkey Disagrees with Washington and Loses the Bet", pointed out that after Obama accepted the resignation of the Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, Turkey had lost a key ally, as Hagel was unable to impose his opinion which was similar to the opinion of the Turks regarding the U.S. administration changing its strategy on the Islamic State of Iraq and Syrua (ISIS).


Ankara will not reverse its decision not to participate in the fight against the group, unless Washington puts forward the goal of toppling Assad at the top of its agenda, in addition to the establishment of a no-fly zone in northern Syria.


The newspaper also mentioned the visit of U.S. Vice President Joe Biden to Turkey on Saturday.


"In the end, despite all the efforts made by the Turkish government to describe Biden's visit as successful, major differences still exist," the reports said.


"While the Turkish government hoped that the lengthy talks about Syria would persuade the United States to change its priorities, Biden focused on the importance of cooperation between the regional powers: Turkey, Egypt, Israel and Lebanon, on energy and on the common interest in the Cyprus issue. Biden returned to Washington without taking Turkey's approval to use the strategic Incirlik air base in the south of the country".


Translated and edited by The Syrian Observer

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