Syrian opposition: Decision by Assad to leave Geneva talks “an embarrassment to Russia”

The Syrian opposition delegation denounced a decision by the government delegation to leave the UN-backed talks in Geneva, saying it was an “embarrassment” to Russia, and called on Moscow to exert pressure on Damascus to bring it back to the negotiations table. The Syrian opposition spokesman Yahya al-Aridi said, “I don’t think that those who support the regime are happy with such a position being taken by the regime. This is an embarrassment to Russia. And I believe that Russia should have a say in this particular thing. Because we understand the Russian position now. They are somehow in a hurry to find a solution,” he asserted.

The government delegation, led by Syria’s UN Ambassador Bashar al-Ja’afari, blamed its departure from the talks on Friday on the opposition’s uncompromising stance on Assad’s future in Syria, and said they would come back only if the opposition withdrew its statement on Assad’s fate. While the opposition is keen on bringing about a political process that would provide it with a better reality than what it has managed to attain on the ground, the government delegation does not view the talks as constructive. Upon leaving Geneva, Ambassador al-Ja’afari accused the opposition of taking a provocative and irresponsible course of action that is counterproductive to realizing a viable solution to the ongoing conflict. Al-Ja’afari said, “The language was provocative, irresponsible, politically speaking, and goes beyond the hopes of the Syrian people in this kind of talks. So as long as the other side sticks to the language of Riyadh 2, there will be no progress. They are creating handicaps, impediments, by nature, by definition,” he stressed.

The eighth round of U.N.-sponsored talks is expected to last until the 15th of December, and indirect bilateral meetings between the UN’s Syria envoy Staffan de Mistura and the warring parties are expected to resume immediately, but as of now, the government has not given any indication of returning to Geneva.