Opposition leader and former prime minister Dr. Riad Hijab spoke Tuesday with a select group of Syria experts during a webinar organized by the Turkish Heritage Organization, a US think tank in Washington D.C.
“It is very important at this time to reassess the international scene and to avoid unilateral measures and abrupt statements made by certain parties,” Hijab said.
Hijab responded to questions from Savanah Lane, Executive Director, on the Syrian prospects and the international community’s role in solving the Syrian crisis.
Hijab said the international community is not united behind one priority when it comes to Syria, as disagreement between the active forces is dominating the international political scene.
“There is no doubt that these differences will only hinder any serious attempt to address the Syrian crisis, the biggest humanitarian catastrophe since World War II,” Hijab said.
Therefore, he continued, “in my view, the economic portfolio will be the most pressing issue in the coming period, and will be the biggest concern for the international community.”
What concerns the Syrians now, according to the former head of the Syrian Negotiations Commission, is the complex international conflict scene, “which is more complex today than it was ten years ago.”
He added that the Syrian crisis could only be addressed through cooperation and coordination between the actors instead of competition and conflict.
Hijab said the past four years of the Trump administration “were not the golden time for international coordination and organizations such as the United Nations, NATO, the European Union, the Friends of Syria Group, and other entities.”
Hijab welcomed the “promising statements of Mr. Geir Pedersen,” and his visits to many major countries to discuss the Syrian issue.
“We are encouraged by his attempts to push the UN mediation, and his assertion that the issues in dispute go beyond the Constitutional Committee and its outputs.”
On the topic of Russia, Hijab said that “While Russia does not have a solution and cannot provide one,” there is no realistic solution without them,” he added. “Any solution must be based on an American-Russian understanding, with Turkish and Arab support, a solution that has to isolate Iran as much as it can, and push it away from Syria, which – if it happens – will be a win for all.”
As for Turkey, Hijab said that Ankara has strong cards to play in Syria and called for strengthening the essential Turkish role in the Syrian crisis, putting aside Turkish-Western differences, and taking advantage of the wide areas that Turkey can offer at the military and political levels in the Syrian issue. In addition, Egypt and the GCC countries will open important prospects for reaching a common regional strategy to stop the suffering of the Syrians.
Hijab praised the efforts of the Syrian-American community in communicating with both parties in Congress as well as the Administration, in addition to its great humanitarian role, and its role in pursuing justice and accountability for war criminals in Syria.
This article was edited by The Syrian Observer. The Syrian Observer has not verified the content of this story. Responsibility for the information and views set out in this article lies entirely with the author.