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Geneva II unlikely to be held on time

January 30, 2014 at 10:00 am

Arab and Western officials have ruled out that the Geneva II Conference on Syria would take place on schedule because of clear differences between Washington and Moscow.

Washington and Moscow have not agreed on how the Syrian opposition should be represented at the conference. Meanwhile, Arabs have their own view about the most appropriate way of representing the Syrian opposition.

The officials told Reuters that the ongoing disputes between the Syrian opposition parties is also another significant reason for delaying the conference.

According to Reuters, one of the officials who is taking part in the preparations for the conference said: “The issue will get clearer after the upcoming meeting between Washington and Moscow, but it is difficult for the conference to be held on 23 November.”

Nevertheless, US, UN and Russian envoys continue preparing for the conference, and insist that there must be one delegation for the Syrian regime and only one delegation for the Syrian opposition at the conference.

The US firmly believes that the opposition must be represented by the Syrian National Coalition (SNC), which is considered by some to be the sole legal representative for the Syrian nation.

Meanwhile, Russia views the SNC as only part of the opposition, and thus suggests that the opposition be represented by a number of delegates, including characters living in Damascus.

Syrian opposition figure Hassan Abdul-Azeem supports the Russian suggestion. After meeting the UN and Arab League envoy to Syria, Lakhdar Brahimi, Hassan said that envoys from all the Syrian opposition groups must be represented under a “united national Syrian umbrella”, and not just under the name of the SNC.

Last week, the “Friends of Syria” held a meeting in London and issued a statement saying that Geneva II would work on forming a transitional government in Syria, and that President Assad and his aides would not be represented.