Syrian opposition: No peace talks if Assad doesn’t cede power

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A timeframe for President Bashar al-Assad to cede power is one of the conditions listed by the head of the Syrian National Coalition on Sunday in order for the main opposition group to participate in the proposed Geneva II conference aimed to solve the 32-month conflict.

“We have decided not to enter Geneva talks unless it is with dignity, and unless there is a successful transfer of power with a specific timeframe, and without the occupier Iran at the negotiating table,” Reuters quoted coalition head Ahmed al-Jarba as saying at an Arab League emergency meeting in Cairo.

Jarba, who described Iran as an occupying force, said it “shouldn’t be on the negotiation table.”

He also said the Iran-backed Lebanese Shiite group, Hezbollah, who is fighting alongside Syrian forces against rebels, should be blacklisted.

Additionally, Iraqi Shiite militia, Abu Fadhel al-Abbas, battling against rebels with Hezbollah should also be listed as a terrorist group, Jarba added.

“We do not accept negotiations when Scud missiles, explosive barrels are continuing, and when more people are being detained?”

Jarba, who pleaded for arms from the Arab League states, said his group can “guarantee that it won’t fall in the wrong hands.”

Western countries, including the United States, have long been doubtful on whether to arm the rebels, fearing that the weapons might be seized by al-Qaeda-linked groups.

“What are you waiting for, for Syrians to shed more blood? When more women are raped?” Jarba said.

He appealed for more help from Arab states, saying that the international community has become “paralyzed.”

The United Nations envoy to Syria Lakhdar Brahimi has said there would be no pre-conditions for the long-delayed peace talks, but the Syrian opposition keeps on reiterating its conditions.

The talks are meant to bring Syria’s opposing sides to the negotiating table, but have been repeatedly delayed because of disputes between world powers, divisions among the opposition and the irreconcilable positions of Assad and the rebels.

“We want to come as a unified group,” Jarba said, in reference to criticism that the Syrian opposition is not united.

Arab and Western officials said this week that international powers were unlikely to meet their goal of holding the conference in November.

(With Reuters)

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