The head of the Syrian National Council (SNC) George Sabra confirmed that the umbrella opposition body, the Syrian National Coalition has not taken a final decision regarding its attendance at the Geneva II conference.
Sabra said the final decision will be made at the next meeting of the General Commission of the Coalition later this month in Istanbul.
In an interview with al-Hayat in Doha, Sabra said that “the western-Iranian agreement on the nuclear issue worries us”.
Sabra also denied that the SNC made a secret visit to Moscow, but confirmed they had received an invitation “which we have refused until now”.
Sabra reiterated the opposition's rejection of Iran's participation in Geneva II unless it changes its position on Syria.
“There are now serious and frank discussions [on the topic of participation] and there are conflicting opinions between those who would like to attend under the current conditions, and those who do not see any benefit to the Syrian revolution and the Syrian people to attend in these circumstances,” Sabra said
He said dialogues are taking place within the Coalition, and its institutions, as well as with other political forces, “but more importantly, the dialogues conducted between the political opposition, the revolutionary forces and the armed brigades inside Syria.”.
Regarding whether armed brigades support participation in Geneva II, Sabra said the position “is well-known and declared; most of the fighters are against participation, although they do favor a political solution, but they do not believe that what will be discussed in this forthcoming conference will meets their hopes.”
Sabra said that the fighters also have reservations about inviting parties that “cannot play any intermediary role between the Syrian revolution and the regime,” referring to Iran and Russia.
“Iran takes a hostile position to the Syrian people and the Syrian territory is occupied by Hezbollah and Abu al Fadl al Abbas militias,” he said.
Sabra said the probability that the upcoming meeting will result in the decision to attend Geneva was 50:50 between those supporting participation and those not.
Regarding the involvement of opposition figures like such as Rifaat al-Assad and Qadri Jamil in the negotiation process, Sabra said he believes “this process is conducted by the Russians because they want to find a foothold within the Syrian opposition”.
“I think it's a joke when someone says Rifaat al-Assad can participate in any negotiations; he is one of the people who should go to The Hague for trial for major war crimes,” Sabra said.
“As for Qadri Jamil, I do not think he could be accepted seriously that the Deputy Prime Minister of the Syrian government and as part of the opposition during negotiations. This is a Russian effort, but it will not work,” he said.
Sabra said as long as Iran maintained its position on Syria, the opposition would reject its involvement in talks, despite a recent nuclear deal with the West.
But he said the agreement was "a concern".
“To be frank with you, yes, this agreement should concern us, because it brings Iran into the spotlight, it brings Iran to the international community, and we fear that Syrians will pay the price for the Iranian nuclear file just as they paid the price of getting rid of the regime's chemical weapons.”
Translated and edited by The Syrian Observer