After the Syrian government announced its rejection, the UN special envoy to Syria, Geir Pedersen, announced that he would explain more to Damascus his approach called the idea of “steps for steps”. He pointed out that the phase of military operations in Syria is over.
When asked about the statement by the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Expatriates Faisal al-Mekdad, Pedersen said that the Syrian government is against the steps for steps approach. “I have had several rounds of discussions with the Syrian government, and I will continue discussions with it on this matter,” he said. “I know they have many questions, but I also know that the opposition Negotiating Body has questions about the new approach. I would be happy to explain in more detail to Damascus, the true background of the steps for steps approach, in the hope that we will also engage in an appropriate way, as well as with the Negotiating Body”. Pedersen said that in an interview published by the Saudi regime-owned newspaper Asharq al-Awsat, on Saturday.
On January 17th, Mekdad rejected the idea of steps for steps and said “this is unacceptable to us”. He added, “It seems that the UN special envoy Geir Pedersen and Western countries behind him have become clearly aware that the path of the Constitutional Committee has become difficult for them. We say that the Syrian people will not give up their army and will reject any clause dealing with this army and contradicts its real interests”.
“It is fair to say that from the Security Council’s point of view, there exists support for my initiative, as well as from other major personalities, be it Arabs and Europeans,” Pedersen said in the interview. He noted that on Monday, EU foreign ministers met in Brussels, and they consented to support his approach. He considered that the timing is right to move forward with this approach, but indicated that he is still in the stage of brainstorming on the idea and that he will hold additional rounds of consultations.
Pedersen indicated that there had been a strategic stalemate in place, which had lasted for about two years, whereby “the parties would not budge”. He revealed that the main interlocutors informed him that the phase of military operations is over, that no party will seize control of the conclusion, and that each party felt a new approach is necessary.
He said: “I spent a lot of time explaining this issue to Damascus, the opposition, the region, and the main international interlocutors. I feel it is time to test the steps for steps approach.”
This article was translated and 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.