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The HNC calls for the immediate, unconditional adherence to UN Resolutions

Date Posted: 27 January 2016

In response to questions concerning the willingness of the opposition to attend the proposed Geneva negotiations, the General Coordinator of the HNC, Dr. Riad Hijab, confirmed that the Committee has written to UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon, affirming its willingness to accept the invitation extended to them, notwithstanding an appeal to Mr Ban Ki-moon to encourage the international community to fulfil its obligations towards the Syrian people.

Dr. Hijab confirmed that the Committee also wrote to UN Special Envoy to Syria, Mr. Staffan de Mistura, requesting clarifications in light of the hurried arrangements being conducted in international corridors to launch negotiations without much regard to important issues, principally, the role of the UN in the implementation of Articles 12 and 13 of UNSCR 2254, which stipulates: lifting the siege, delivering humanitarian aid to all those in need, releasing detainees and prisoners of conscience, especially those involving women and children, and the cessation of indiscriminate artillery shelling and aerial bombardment of civilian targets.  Dr. Hijab also pointed out that there remains time to address this situation, at this critical juncture, and stressed that the international community must be clear and decisive on this issue, as it cannot be possible to commence serious negotiations whilst war crimes are being committed against the Syrian people.

Dr. Hijab insisted that the Commission is “repulsed by the notion of selective cherry picking and setting preconditions for the implementation of international resolutions. The Commission calls for the immediate, unconditional adherence to these resolutions.”  He further added that “the real obstacle to the implementation of the resolutions are those who insist on linking alleviating the suffering of the Syrian people with political expediency during negotiations; it is indisputable, that leveraging political gains by using human suffering is a deplorable act and the international community will certainly not accept it under any circumstances.”

In regards to calls for ‘‘testing the regime and its allies’ intentions’’ by attending the negotiations, Dr. Hijab questioned the logic of this proposition, indicating that the regime and its allies are clearly demonstrating their "intent" through their continued bombing of Syrian cities and the mobilisation of additional troops to support the regime.  Dr. Hijab added, “Is the number of Syrians who die every day as a result of drowning, hunger, cold, torture, and bombardment not enough to indicate the intentions of the regime and its allies?”

Furthermore, Dr. Hijab pointed that, “the regime’s intentions were clear during the negotiating rounds held in February 2014, when then UN envoy, Lakhdar Brahimi, apologised to the Syrian people for failure to achieve any progress due to the regime's attitude and its refusal to discuss the negotiation’s agenda.  Two years on, not much has changed except “a more emboldened regime continues to commit horrific crimes against humanity unabated, does that warrant providing it yet another opportunity to test intentions?”

Dr. Hijab declared, “that the true test of intentions must be in the willingness of the international community to enforce UN resolutions and international law in light of the crimes Bashar al-Assad's regime continues to commit before the eyes of the world, and is thus described by the UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon, as war crimes."

Concerning the delegation selected for the negotiations, Dr. Hijab insisted that the selection was based on qualification, experience, and the ability to implement any agreements reached on the ground; this reflects the seriousness of the Commission and its commitment to the success of the political process.  He added that the controversy over the personalities participating in the negotiations stems from attempts to appease the regime and its allies who seemingly aim to disrupt the political process through: questioning the credibility of the opposition’s delegation, classifying some members of the delegation as affiliated to terrorist organisation, interfering in the nomination of delegates as well as attempts to include contentious elements; all such actions are obstacles set by the regime and its allies to stop the political process and to avoid the inevitable outcomes with regard to the transfer of authority and the cessation of combat.

As for the negotiating agenda, Dr. Hijab confirmed that the Commission proposed an agenda based on the Geneva Communiqué (2012) and other international resolutions which stipulate the following: the establishment of a transitional governing body with full executive authority, maintaining Syrian unity and territorial integrity, reforming state institutions and the restructuring of the security and military institutions, rejection of terrorism in all its forms, and the establishment of a pluralist system which is inclusive and representative of the Syrian people, in addition to the exclusion of Bashar al-Assad and members of his regime from any future political arrangements.

Significantly, Dr. Hijab remarked on the shift in the political positions of some friendly states which have ostensibly abandoned their previously held positions on Bashar al-Assad, loss of legitimacy, and that of ‘he must therefore immediately step down’. Their current position now is to achieve this in the "long-term", under the loose assumption that international resolutions will be adhered to, and even more ironically, via “mutual consent".  All the while, the fact that Bashar al-Assad’s regime refuses to discuss this issue in principle, and does not accept placing it on the negotiating agenda, goes unnoticed.

To this end, Dr. Hijab declared: "We are no longer concerned with the shifts and turns of some countries,  ...we represent our people’s interests, and we believe that our determination in seeking full adherence to internationally agreed resolutions is the most effective way to achieve real transition and progress which will save our people from this tragic catastrophe caused by the oppressive, dictatorial regime of al-Assad."

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