BEIRUT, LEBANON (12:32 A.M.) – Syria’s Permanent Representative to the UN Bashar al-Jaafari said that Turkey should be questioned over the absence of armed opposition groups from the latest round of Syria peace talks in Astana on Tuesday.
Bashar al-Jaafari, Syria’s Permanent Representative to the UN said in Arabic that: “We are extremely interested in Astana being successful, and for the negotiations to be safely completed, for the sake of the Syrian people. Whether or not there are representatives from armed groups here or not. I believe that this position is shared by the majority of participants in the Astana talks.”
Jaafari went onto explain that the presence of the opposition did not matter, as they came on the behest of their allies, Russia and Iran.
“As a delegation from the Syrian Arab Republic, we did not primarily come here to meet with a delegation of armed opposition groups. We came here to meet two guarantors – Russia and Iran – who are our allies. And to demonstrate our serious intentions, the seriousness of the intentions of the Syrian government to participate in the Astana process. The issue of their presence or absence does not directly concern us,” he explained.
Jaafari then went onto explain that the opposition groups are not truly independent but rather act on behalf of their international backers.
“The absence of a delegation from armed groups at the Astana talks tells us that the Syrian government’s point of view is correct and also reveals the real political vulnerabilities of these armed groups – that they aren’t actually independent. In other words, it’s not the groups that decide whether they will be present or not, but those who use them. Thus, this issue is political and it concerns the three guarantors. If one of these three guarantors violates its obligations – I mean Turkey – then it is Turkey that should be questioned about why some or other armed groups are not present at the current round of negotiations,” he continued.