Syrian opposition meeting in Riyadh ends in stalemate

Members of the Syrian high negotiations committee and the Cairo and Moscow groups are seen during a meeting in Riyadh, on August 21, 2017, in an effort to arrive at an agreement on the political programme that forms the basis of the negotiations with the Syrian government. ( AFP / Fayez Nureldine)
Updated 22 August 2017
0

Syrian opposition meeting in Riyadh ends in stalemate

RIYADH: A meeting between Syrian opposition groups in Riyadh has ended in stalemate, a member said Tuesday, with the fate of President Bashar 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 recognize any text that referred to the Syrian people’s demand for the departure of Bashar 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.


US terror survey blames Iran for 'fomenting violence' in Middle East

Updated 19 September 2018
0

US terror survey blames Iran for 'fomenting violence' in Middle East

  • The US has once again named Iran as the world's leading state sponsor of terrorism
  • The report said Iranian fighters and Iran-backed militias, like Lebanon's Hezbollah, had emerged emboldened

WASHINGTON: The US has once again named Iran as the world's leading state sponsor of terrorism, accusing it of intensifying numerous conflicts and trying to undermine governments throughout the Middle East.
The State Department's annual survey of global terrorism released on Wednesday said Iran and its proxies are responsible for fomenting violence in Afghanistan, Bahrain, Iraq, Lebanon and Yemen. The report said Iranian fighters and Iran-backed militias, like Lebanon's Hezbollah, had emerged emboldened from the war in Syria and with valuable battlefield experience they seek to leverage elsewhere.

"Iran remains the world's leading state sponsor of terrorism and is responsible for intensifying multiple conflicts and undermining US interests in Syria, Yemen, Iraq, Bahrain, Afghanistan, and Lebanon," he said.
All three -- Daesh, Al-Qaeda and Iran -- "have both the capability and intent to strike the United States and our allies," State Department Coordinator for Counterterrorism Nathan Sales said.
The report indicated a general increase in global cooperation to fight terrorism, including tracking and blocking financial flows to the groups.
But this remains a challenge, Sales noted.
"You have got to stop the flow of money to these organizations."
"You have got to stop terrorist travel" as well, he added, pointing to the spread of airport detection systems like biometric face identification as a potent tool.
In addition, the survey reported a 24 percent decrease in attacks around the world between 2016 and 2017. That was due mainly to a sharp decline in the number of attacks in Iraq, where the Daesh group has been largely displaced.