HNC agrees to appoint delegatesDate Posted: 20 January 2016
The HNC held its third meeting on Tuesday and Wednesday January 19-20, in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. The Commission Coordinator Dr. Riad Hijab presided over a wide agenda with several deliberation sessions and reviews, in addition to consultations over outcomes from visits to various Arab and Western capitals.
Following a thorough review of the Commission’s proposed agenda to UN Special Envoy, Staffan de Mistura; the Commission agreed to the appointment of Mr. As'ad Al-Zo'ubi as head of the negotiating team, Mr. George Sabra as deputy and Mr. Mohamad Alloush as chief negotiator. Appointment of the delegation was based on a rigorous selection criteria taking into account qualifications, expertise and ability to implement any future agreements on the ground.
Dr. Hijab confirmed that the Commission will request from the UN envoy to formally and directly issue invitations to the Commission to attend the negotiations. Regarding the idea of a third delegation from outside the charter of the Commission, Dr. Hijab commented: “the Riyadh Conference incorporated a diverse spectrum of Syrian opposition, including the National Coalition for Syrian Revolution and Opposition Forces, the National Coordination Committee, moderate factions, political groups and independent figures who participated in the Cairo and Moscow conferences, as well as broad ethnic and religious representation and a significant number of independents. We will not accept attempts by foreign parties to support a particular group at the expense of another, make proposals intended to challenge the credibility and mandate of the Supreme Commission for Negotiations, or to inject individuals in the form of a so-called third delegation, justifying their presence under unfounded pretexts merely to disrupt the political process and prolong the fighting in the name of combating terrorism."
During the meeting several opposition groups proposed to suspend negotiations and consider the timing in the absence of full adherence by signatory states to UNSCR2254, particularly: lifting the siege to enable humanitarian agencies to deliver aid, releasing detainees, ceasing aerial shelling and artillery attacks against civilians. In response to these valid reservations Dr. Hijab pointed out that, "Dates are not sacred, we will not go to any negotiations while our people suffer from shelling, starvation and siege... debased political bartering at the expense of the Syrian people is tantamount to callous extortion which we will not accept under any circumstance."