Damascus, SANA – Deputy Prime Minister, Foreign and Expatriates Minister Walid al-Moallem said Syria is ready to go for a Syrian- Syrian dialogue without any preconditions and will not comply with any precondition set by any party whatsoever.
Speaking at a press conference on Saturday, al-Moallem said the delegation of the Syrian Arab Republic to the talks in Geneva showed belief in the Syrians’ right and Syria’s future.
He referred to Syria’s reply message to the letter sent by UN Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura on January 26 inviting the Syrian Arab Republic’s delegation to participate in the Syrian-Syrian dialogue.
The Syrian letter, al-Moallem said, stressed the Republic’s delegation’s readiness to take part in the dialogue based on the two Vienna Communiqués and the Security Council resolution no. 2254 which state that the Syrian people alone have the right to determine their future and that dialogue should be Syrian- led and one among the Syrians away from foreign interference and without preconditions.
Contrary to that, the statements of the “Riyadh opposition” delegation, even before they went to Geneva, were full of preconditions, including those about the humanitarian situation, said al-Moallem.
When the three terrorist bombings happened in al-Sayyeda Zainab suburb near Damascus, the crime was internationally condemned, especially by the UN Secretary General, the Security Council and the European Union, he noted.
“Our delegation,” al-Moallem said, “then wanted to put the Riyadh delegation to the test” and asked for a condemnation statement of the crime, especially after a member of the Riyadh delegation” named Salem al-Maslat accused the Syrian government of being behind the crime.
The “Riyadh opposition” delegation however did not issue such a condemnation statement, as it was clear that they received no instruction to do so.
Al-Moallem noted that the Syrian Arab Republic’s delegation asked de Mistura to provide them with “a list of the names of those with whom we were going to have dialogue, because we wouldn’t hold dialogue with ghosts.”
The list was only presented at the concluding session at the end of the talks, which had not even started, he explained.
He said the “Riyadh opposition” delegation had already decided to walk out of the dialogue, particularly after the victories made by the Syrian Arab Army, mainly those in the northern countryside of Aleppo, referring to breaking the long time terrorist siege of Nubbul and al-Zahraa towns.
“We hoped the Riyadh delegation, who talked about humanitarian issues, would feel happy just like our people were happy with breaking the three-and-a-half year siege of 70 thousand locals of Nubbul and al-Zahraa, but they packed their luggage and left,” added al-Moallem.
“They didn’t feel happy simply because their affiliation is not to the [Syrian] people,” he elaborated.
He stressed that regardless of the Geneva track, the Syrian government pays the greatest attention to the humanitarian issues and to providing food and medical support to all its people, mainly those who are besieged by the armed groups and being used as human shields.
The “Riyadh opposition” delegation, al-Moallem clarified, did not go to Geneva to engage in a Syrian-Syrian dialogue. “They went only because of the pressure practiced on them, and it was the decision of their operators of in Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Qatar to undermine the political process.”
“Anyway, they did right walking out because they are not at all free to make decisions at the talks,” he said.
The Foreign Minister affirmed that everyone, on top of all de Mistura, should realize that “Syria goes for a Syrian- Syrian dialogue without any preconditions and will not comply with any precondition set by any party whatsoever.”
He noted that the two Vienna Communiqués and the Security Council resolutions assert de Mistura’s responsibility of forming the opposition delegation and also stress on having the broadest possible representation of the opposition groups.
However, al-Moallem said, de Mistura started picking names in a personal capacity and was being selective and named some of those whom he selected as advisors.
He pointed out that the delegation of the Syrian Arab Republic told de Mistura that it was important to not repeat the mistakes of Geneva 2 in that the representation of the opposition groups should be the broadest one possible in compliance with the resolution no. 2254, which cited the opposition groups of Moscow, Cairo and Riyadh.
Al-Moallem found it strange that de Mistura did not meet with the delegation of the opposition from inside Syria, wondering why those have not been represented, when they have stayed in Syria all through the past period and they are national opposition who have ideas different from those of the government.
“We want the broadest possible representation of the Syria opposition groups in Geneva conference, including the Kurds, because we want an applicable political solution that can be implemented on the ground,” he stressed.
“No one in the opposition can claim to be the only representative of the whole opposition,” he said, adding “We hope de Mistura would take this point into consideration if we wanted to have a real and healthy atmosphere and abide by the two Vienna communiqués and the Security Council’s
About de Mistura’s role, al-Moallem said de Mistura is the facilitator of the dialogue process. ‘We acknowledge only what comes out of the Syrian-Syrian dialogue…and those who talk about assurances are mistaken,” he added.
In response to a question on Saudi regime’s announcement that it was ready to send troops to Syria, al-Moallem said the Saudi statements did not come out of the blue, but came in natural response to demands based on research centers in the US and the U.S. Secretary of Defense’s statements to form ground troops to fight ISIS because the US doesn’t want to cooperate with the Syrian army that is fighting ISIS, adding that “the question to be asked is ‘What has Saudi Arabia done in Yemen? Has it succeeded?’ It has inflicted total destruction.”
This announcement shows that Saudi Arabia is implementing the US will, said al-Moallem, adding that “it seems that after the victories of the Syrian armed forces and its allies , the conspirators and financers have got fed up with their tools on the ground who are reeling, and that they decided to get involved themselves.”
Al-Moallem, however, ruled out such a move, but still recalled “their crazy decisions made not only against Yemen but also regarding other areas,” noting that the mutual visits made by Erdogan and his Prime Minister and Chief of Staff to Riyadh indicate that “there is something being plotted under U.S. patronage.”
“Any ground intervention in the Syrian territories without the government’s approval would be an act of aggression that has to be confronted, and in that case confrontation will be every Syrian’s duty,” al-Moallem stressed, adding that “Any aggressor will be sent back to their country in wooden boxes.”
He noted that Erdogan has dreams about the Ottoman state and these dreams are fading on the ground, referring to the popular rejection which Erdogan received during his visit to Latin America.
Minister al-Moallem reiterated Syria’s belief that the political solution is the only way to solve the crisis in Syria, noting that “We don’t link between what is taking place on the ground and the political work, and we are working in parallel in the fight against terrorism.”
“This issue is one thing and Geneva conference is another thing,” he added.
“We are very keen on Syria’s sovereignty and territorial safety and ridding it of terrorism…Aggressors who dare attack Syria, be them from Turkey, Saudi Arabia or other, will return in wooden coffins..We are a sovereign country and we will repel any violation,” al-Moallem said in a stern warning.
Answering a question about announced visits to Russia by government and opposition representatives, al-Moallem said the Syrian government has received no invitation for a Moscow 3 round of talks, indicating that the Syrian crisis can only be solved politically.
“We are leaving no stone unturned to reach a solution. If Riyadh delegation comes or not, this is their own business,” he added.
He said that counterterrorism efforts run in parallel political work, vowing that no effort will be spared until eliminating terrorism, namely ISIS and al-Qaeda-linked organizations in Syria.
Asked whether “Jaish al-Islam” and “Ahrar al-Sham” terrorist organizations have representatives in Geneva, al-Moallem said “the Russian position on this is clear. Those came in their individual capacity and not as representatives of terrorist organizations, which does not give them legitimacy.”
Jordan’s position on Syria remains unchanged as “convoys of terrorists are still crossing borders coming from Jordan to Syria and not the other way round. It is a one-way ticket. Because those who return to Jordan get killed, “he added, attributing the army’s recent successes in the southern region to the bravery of the Syrian army and popular support it enjoys rather than a change in Jordan’s stance.
Commenting on the issue of ceasefire, al-Moallem echoed the Russian Foreign Minister’s statements that this is not applicable until borders with Turkey are controlled. “The same holds true for Jordan’s too,” he added.
Al-Moallem said, in reply to a question about UN-brokered agreement about ISIS evacuating areas south of Damascus, al-Moallem said the agreement stipulates that ISIS members leave al-Hajar al-Aswad area and the areas surrounding it for Raqqa with their families. Others, he said, have stayed behind due to ISIS lack of transportation to carry them to Raqqa.
Al-Moallem denied the existence of Syrian intelligence cooperation against ISIS with France or Britain, saying Syria does not exploit counterterrorism to make political gains.
Al-Moallem said the Syrian government is ready to provide humanitarian aid for the Syrians wherever they are, but said guarantees are needed to make sure that the aid will not end up in the hands of terrorists, citing the Russian and Syrian air force dropping more than 90 tons of humanitarian aid over areas controlled by ISIS in Deir Ezzor.
Answering a question on when the crisis might come to an end, al-Moallem said as long as there are conspirators, who are still willing to spend their peoples’ money on armed groups, no one can say for how long, adding “However, with the army’s achievements, we are moving towards the finish line of the crisis whether they like it or not.”
The Foreign Minister called on those who haven’t yet dropped their arms to go back to their senses and get back on the right track as they still have the chance because the Syrian army is able to win in any area.