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22 Sep, 2013 08:43

Syrian National Coalition to attend Geneva 2 if transitional govt on table

Syrian National Coalition to attend Geneva 2 if transitional govt on table

The Syrian National Coalition would attend the Geneva 2 peace conference if it aims to set up a transitional government with full powers, the coalition's president Ahmad Jarba said in a letter to the UN Security Council.

In the September 19 letter obtained by Reuters, Jarba said the coalition "reaffirms its willingness to engage in a future Geneva Conference" but "all parties must...agree that the purpose of the conference will be the establishment of a transitional government with full executive powers" as stipulated by an agreement hammered out by international powers last year.

The letter represented the first clear commitment from the coalition, which has been viewed by several Western and Arab states as the legitimate representative of the Syrian people, to attend the proposed conference sponsored by the United States and Russia.

Jarba had earlier appeared less amenable towards a diplomatic solution, having urged the Security Council earlier this week to adopt a resolution under Chapter 7 of the UN charter allowing the use of force to cripple the Syrian government’s "war machine." 

In a speech delivered from Istanbul and broadcast by Al-Arabiya, Jarba said "ending the killing of Syrian people is only possible by stopping the regime's war machine and barring it from using its aviation, missiles and artillery, and depriving it of its chemical weapons."

Jarba continued that a resolution under Chapter 7 "paves the way to a solution to the Syrian crisis... that would lead to a democratic regime that will rebuild Syria."

He further accused the international community of "keeping silent on the crimes of the regime", saying this attitude had emboldened Damascus to deploy chemical weapons.

On July 26, the Syrian National Coalition said it would refuse to partake in the Geneva 2 peace conference as long as Assad did not vow beforehand to stay out of the envisioned transitional government.

The August 21 chemical weapons attack in a Damascus suburb which killed anywhere between 281 and 1,729 people appeared to derail chances for the Middle East Peace conference.Washington blamed the attack on Damascus, while the Assad government said opposition fighters were behind the strike. 

However, following three days of negotiations between Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and his US counterpart John Kerry last Saturday in Geneva, the diplomats hammered out a plan to put Syria’s chemical weapons stockpiles under international control.

The so-called Geneva accord appeared to neutralize the threat of outside intervention in the conflict, which Lavrov had previously said would kill the chances of the proposed peace conference going forward.

 After speaking with French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius on Tuesday, Lavrov reiterated that a UN Security Council resolution intended to compel Syria to follow through with the Russia-US plan would not refer to Chapter 7.

“The [opposition] National Coalition vocally opposed the Russian-American plan to destroy Syrian chemical weapons… because they were expecting that the problem would be solved through a military intervention. And they were disappointed after the intervention failed to materialize and the issue went to the strictly diplomatically-legal framework,” Lavrov said.

He asked the Western backers of the Syrian opposition to use their leverage to force them to participate in the peace conference.