6 February 2013, 05:26

No visible prospects for resolving situation in Syria - Gatilov

No visible prospects for resolving situation in Syria - Gatilov

There are currently no visible prospects for resolving the situation in Syria. This was announced on Tuesday by Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov.

Citing one of the reasons for this, Gatilov said that "our Western partners do not conduct sufficient work with the opposition.”

The diplomat reminded of Russia’s stance that all issues should be resolved by the Syrians themselves, without imposing any model from the outside, while the international community should make every effort to persuade the two sides to sit down to the negotiating table.

"The goal is to attain a political solution to the Syrian crisis, to convince both sides to seek solutions to the problems that have accumulated in the country, and eventually begin to outline their country’s future," added Gatilov.

The conflict between the government and the armed opposition in Syria has raged unabated since March 2011. According to the UN, some 60,000 people have died in that period in the country.

Voice of Russia, RIA

Syrian National Council rejects dialog with authorities

The Syrian National Council (SNC), which is the largest group in the opposition coalition, has confirmed that it rejects any dialogue with the authorities.

Earlier, Ahmed Moaz al-Khatib, head of the National Coalition of opposition and revolutionary forces, of which the SNC is a part, stated he was willing to engage in dialogue with Syria’s Vice-President Farouk al-Shara.

Previously, al-Khatib had voiced readiness to start talks with the Syrian authorities under the condition that 160,000 prisoners in Syria be released.

The UN and the Arab League also insist on the negotiations.

The conflict between the government and the armed opposition in Syria has continued since March 2011.

According to the UN, in that period some 60,000 people have died.

Voice of Russia, RIA


Syrian opposition ready for talks with Vice President al-Sharaa

Andrey Fedyashin, Alexei Lyakhov

On Tuesday, Syrian National Coalition head Ahmed Moaz al-Khatib confirmed his readiness to meet Syrian Vice President Faruq al-Sharaa. Initially, Al-Khatib urged Damascus to start direct talks with the opposition on January 30, a proposal that was downplayed by President Bashar Assad.

Al-Khatib called on the Syrian authorities to sit down at the negotiating table during his last week’s interview with the Al Arabiya and Al Jazeera news networks.

Meanwhile, Russian experts remain at odds over the latest steps by the Syrian opposition. Some describe them as positive signals, while others see them as another unacceptable ultimatum to President Assad.’

They are echoed by Boris Dolgov, of the Moscow-based Institute for Oriental Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences, who says that Assad is unlikely to give the go-ahead to the talks.

"The opposition’s attempts to deliver ultimatums are counterproductive steps," Dolgov says, "stressing the importance of forming what he calls a real opposition. The Syrian National Coalition is yet to be recognized by all the armed opposition groups, which is why speaking of political feasibility of the talks is irrelevant."

Some opposition groups from the Syrian National Coalition are up in arms against the negotiations with Damascus. They have already dubbed al-Khatib’s proposal a treacherous act.

Sergei Demidenko, of the Institute of Strategic Assessments and Analysis in Moscow, underscores the need to begin the talks as soon as possible. The problem is that the Syrian opposition’s lineup is very diverse, Demidenko says.

"It would be naïve to think that the possible talks could drastically change the situation in Syria," he says. "The opposition’s lineup is diverse, namely, those who call for talks with Bashar Assad cannot be called the most active part of the opposition. Its most influential members are the Islamists who are loath to sit at the negotiating table."

It is not accidental that al-Khatib decided to meet al-Sharaa, who belongs to the Sunni branch of Islam. The Sunnis account for more than half the population of Syria, which is not the case with the Alawites, who make up only 16 percent of the country’s population, among them Bashar Assad. Some say that the Alawites are a separate religious group that has nothing in common with Islam.

As for al-Sharaa, he has repeatedly called for talks with the opposition, something that prompted the Arab League and the UN to see him as a possible successor of Bashar Assad.

Mass anti-government protests began in Syria in the spring of 2011. Several months later, they turned into a civil war. The opposition groups are armed and sponsored by some Arab countries. According to some sources, up to 10,000 people have died in violence in Syria since 2011.

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