First Published: 2017-08-22

Syria opposition talks in Riyadh end with no breakthrough
After seven rounds of largely unsuccessful UN-hosted talks, there were hopes that Syria's opposition could present unified front for next round of negotiations in October.
Middle East Online

With Syrian rebel fighting position weakened, Assad regime faces little pressure to make concessions.

RIYADH - A meeting between Syrian opposition groups in Riyadh has ended in stalemate, a member said Tuesday, with the fate of President Bashar al-Assad still an obstacle in forming a unified front for peace talks.

The Saudi-backed opposition High Negotiations Committee (HNC) began discussions on Monday with delegations from two other moderate camps, the so-called Cairo and Moscow groupings, in a bid to reach consensus on a joint negotiating strategy.

After hosting seven rounds of largely unsuccessful talks, UN Syria envoy Staffan de Mistura had sought to unify the opposition for what he hopes will be a substantive round of negotiations in October.

"The representatives of the Moscow grouping refused to recognise any text that referred to the Syrian people's demand for the departure of Bashar al-Assad," said Ahmed Ramadan of the National Coalition, a leading component of the HNC.

"There was an important level of understanding between HNC and the Cairo grouping, but the stalemate with Moscow group delegates hampered efforts to bring representatives... into a single negotiating delegation."

There was no immediate comment from the so-called Moscow group.

Assad's fate has long been a key sticking point, with the HNC insisting on his ouster but the other two camps adopting a softer stance.

De Mistura said last week that he hopes for "real" peace talks between the government and a still-to-be-formed unified Syrian opposition in October.

Rebels have suffered heavy territorial losses since peace talks to end the war began, including the regime's recapture of second city Aleppo, a former opposition stronghold.

With the rebel fighting position weakened, experts say the regime faces no pressure to make concessions at the negotiating table, and especially not over the question of Assad's future.

 

UN Security Council lenient to Turkey’s Syria offensive

Washington probes Hezbollah ‘narcoterrorism’

Tillerson to present US strategy on Syria to European, Arab allies

Russia pension funds may invest in Aramco IPO

Iranian woman skydiver looks to break down stereotypes

Turkish army clashes with Kurdish militia amid US alarm

Turkey arrests dozens accused of ‘terror propaganda’

Three French female jihadists face possible death penalty in Iraq

Women journalists protest separation during Pence visit to Jerusalem

Egypt military accuses presidential hopeful of committing crimes

Israeli minister calls to ban author praising Palestinian teen

Qatar supports Turkey’s offensive against Kurds

World powers meet on Syria chemical attacks

Morocco's king appoints five new ministers

Pence pledges US embassy move by end of 2019 on Jerusalem trip

Russia calls for diplomatic solution to Yemen conflict

Russia invites Kurds to join Syria peace process

Turkey shells Kurdish targets in northern Syria

Closer look at pro-Ankara rebels amassing around Afrin

Pence set for Palestinian snub

Abbas to ask EU to recognise Palestinian state

Saudi-led coalition to give $1.5 bln in Yemen aid

Mattis: Turkey gave US advance warning on Syria operation

Yemen releases budget for first time in three years

Saudi calls for cooperation between OPEC, non-OPEC countries

France presses Turkey to end offensive against Kurds

The changing faces of al-Qaeda in Syria

Kurdish militia fire rockets at Turkish town

Moroccans wary depreciation of dirham could raise cost of living, despite benefits

Deserted streets, terrified civilians after Turkey attacks Afrin

Iraqi, Kurdish leaders hold talks on bitter regional dispute

Russia-led Syria peace congress to be held January 30

Turkey launches new strikes on Kurdish targets in Syria

Egypt's Sisi says will stand for re-election

Pence heads to Mideast despite Muslim, Christian anger

Assad regime says Syria a 'tourist' destination

Journalists arrested while reporting Sudan protests

Aid for millions of Palestinians hostage to politics

Lebanon thwarts holiday attacks using IS informant

Mortar fire wounds 14 in Syria mental hospital

Turkish military fires on Kurdish forces in Syria's Afrin

More than 32,000 Yemenis displaced in intensified fighting

UN warns of "lost generation" in South Sudan's grinding conflict

Saudi's refined oil exports offset crude curbs

US to overtake Saudi as world’s second crude oil producer