US journalist: Syrian opposition conference hosted by El-Riyadh nothing but sham
16 December 2015. PenzaNews. The December 8-10 Syrian opposition talks held at the initiative of Saudi Arabia is nothing but sham in an attempt to conceal the true intentions – to oust Syrian President Bashar Assad – from the international community, suggested Mike Whitney, independent US journalist, Counterpunch correspondent, in his article titled “The Saudi-hosted ‘opposition talks’ fiasco” published in the foreign media.
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He reminds that the meeting held in El-Riyadh brought together over 100 leaders and representatives of Syrian opposition groups, and resulted in the creation of the so-called “high commission” of 33 delegates to prepare for negotiations with the Syrian Arab Republic (SAR) in January 2016.
However, the journalist suggests that the “high commission” is not going to have any impact on future conflict, the conference took place without the largest and most influential actors in the Syrian war – from Kurds and the Syrian Army, to “Islamic State” terrorist group (IS, Daesh in Arabic; banned in Russia) – even being invited.
The “high commission” is not going to have any impact on future negotiations because its leaders don’t represent the most powerful groups of fighters on the ground. The most powerful groups are the Syrian Arab Army (SAA), Jahbat al Nusra (and other al Qaida-linked militias), ISIS and the Kurdish People’s Protection Units or YPG. None of these groups participated in the Saudi talks even though their delegates will eventually play a big role in determining the country’s future.
Still, according to him, the Saudi plan to draw “moderate” opposition groups into a unified political front already collapsed as representatives of Ahrar al-Sham militia group, who had been invited in spite of the opposition, refused to participate in the event.
“Ahrar al-Sham, a hardcore amalgam of Wahhabi extremists and fanatical jihadis, withdrew from the anti-Assad confab because, according to The Washington Post: ‘some of its comments and recommendations have been disregarded at the meeting’,” the author writes.
At the same time, he points out that The Washington Post did not explain the meaning behind “comments and recommendations” – for a very clear reason.
“The media doesn’t want the American people to know that the so called ‘moderate’ militias their government is backing are actually homicidal maniacs who are determined to topple a secular government and replace it with an Islamic Caliphate,” Mike Whitney thinks.
To back up his claims, the author cites some of the demands issued by Ahrar al-Sham after the El-Riyadh conference. In particular, the statement of the Islamist militia, which was left without any mention by the Western media, contains a refusal to hold any talks with the Syrian government, along with demands to disband the Syrian national army, withdraw Iran and Russian forces, and transform SAR into an Islamic country, with the task to combat Daesh named a secondary objective.
From his point of view, participation of such armed Islamist groups as Ahrar al-Sham disproves and negates the very idea behind talks held in El-Riyadh.
“Ahrar al-Sham is anything but moderate. According to the Telegraph, ‘the group was established by Islamists and originally included internationally known jihadists with long-standing ties to al-Qaeda.’ The group receives significant financial support from Saudi Arabia which is a country that is vehemently opposed to democratic government, which has a long history of support for terrorist organizations, and where citizens convicted of sorcery can face beheading,” Mike Whitney writes.
He also points out that the conditions to preserve integrity of Syria and create a transitional democratic government that were voiced during the conference were practically copied from the requirements by Russia and Iran that were inserted into the 30 June 2012 Geneva “action group” communiqué.
“If democracy prevails in Syria, it will be because the Russian’s and Iranians refused to accept anything less,” says the independent US reporter.
Moreover, he notes that some groups that took part in the El-Riyadh talks were issuing public statements attempting to paint themselves as peace fighters who took weapons to stop bloodshed.
“That is transparently false. In fact, most of the fighters active in Syria today, are foreigners that are funded, armed, and trained by Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the United States. Their job is to tear the country to shreds in order to topple Assad, replace him with a compliant stooge, and divide the state in a way that best serves the commercial and strategic interests of the three main perpetrators,” Mike Whitney writes.
“The idea that prominent western media like the New York Times and the Washington Post would take these Saudi-led meetings seriously is simply mindboggling. Does anyone need to be reminded that 15 of the 19 hijackers on 9-11 were from Saudi Arabia, or that Saudi royals have been arming and funding terrorist organizations for the last 30 years or that Riyadh is presently backing many of the Sunni militants now prosecuting the proxy war in Syria today?” the journalist asks.
He also suggests that the current diplomatic efforts by Saudi Arabia are caused by the intention to regain advantage by the next round of negotiations in Vienna after their tried and true tactics ended up in clear failure after the beginning of the Russian operation in Syria.
Moreover, according to him, the real intentions of El-Riyadh can be seen in the words of the Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir, who claimed during the December 10 press conference that Bashar Assad has only two choices – leave on his own terms or be forcibly removed from power.
“So nothing has changed, right? This whole fiasco about convening ‘talks’ between opposition leaders is just a smokescreen to conceal the real objective which is regime change. But does anyone really think the Russians and Iranians are going to be fooled by this ‘opposition conference’ charade? Not on your life. They’re not going to let any of these foreign-born whackos from Chechnya, Libya or Saudi Arabia decide Syria’s future. That has to be decided by the Syrian people themselves,” Mike Whitney stresses.
From his point of view, the process to facilitate self-determination of Syrian people through free national elections may only begin after the foreign intervention stops and the stakeholders in the hospot move to an honest and open dialogue.