Posted December 09, 2015 08:16:59

Nations involved in the Syrian peace process are set to meet in New York on December 18, but the talks might hinge on efforts to unite Syrian opposition groups in the coming days, US secretary of state John Kerry says.

Russia, the United States, European and Middle Eastern countries agreed last month on a two-year timeline leading to Syrian national elections, but left a lot of queries unresolved, most notably the fate of Syrian president Bashar al-Assad.

The nations involved in the talks, which also consist of Saudi Arabia, Iran and Turkey, laid out a strategy such as formal talks in between the government and opposition from January 1.

To obtain that timeline, Saudi Arabia is hosting a conference this week to try to unite Syria’s divided rebel and opposition groups, who are trying to forge a typical platform to be able to negotiate with the Syrian government.

“Depending on the outcome of both the Saudi-led conference of the opposition that is taking place in the next days, as nicely as a handful of other issues, it is our plan to try … [to] have a meeting in New York on December 18,” Mr Kerry stated.

“But again, it depends on the flow of events over the subsequent week.”

A essential concern for a ceasefire will be figuring out which groups fighting Mr Assad will be branded moderate opposition fighters deserving of a seat at the negotiating table and which will be labelled terrorists.

Opposition groups deemed reputable will be invited to take part in the ceasefire although these labelled terrorists, so far Islamic State and al-Qaeda-linked groups, will be treated as fair game for Syrian government forces, Russia, the United States, France and other individuals conducting air strikes in Syria.

“It is totally necessary that as was agreed in Vienna, there should be a nationwide ceasefire as soon as feasible,” UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon said.

“In New York I hope we will have a firm and strong basis so that the ceasefire can be launched as well as the political procedure.”

Rebels, opposition seek widespread ground

Syria’s rebel and opposition groups are trying to forge a frequent stance over negotiations to finish the civil war, but the absence of some prominent activists and a major Kurdish force from their meeting in Riyadh shows that unity remains elusive.

Bringing the fragmented opposition together is observed by its backers as a essential step to finish a civil war which began with protests against Bashar al-Assad in 2011 and speedily drew in rival Sunni and Shi’ite Muslim powers across the Middle East.

Shi’ite Iran, Mr Assad’s primary regional supporter, has criticised the meeting in the Sunni Muslim kingdom, saying it is developed to harm efforts to attain a peaceful answer to a war which has killed 250,000 men and women and displaced 12 million.

At a Riyadh hotel exactly where the opposition meeting will start off on Wednesday, safety was stepped up and journalists were ejected as fighters and opposition leaders gathered.

Particular forces soldiers with physique armour and assault rifles manned checkpoints.

An initial list of 65 invitees to the Riyadh talks has grown substantially, but critics say it nonetheless falls brief of a completely inclusive meeting.

The Kurdish administration that runs swathes of north Syria was not invited.

Rebels in western Syria do not trust the main Kurdish militia, the YPG, since they say it cooperates with Damascus rather than fighting it.


Topics: unrest-conflict-and-war, globe-politics, syrian-arab-republic, united-states, iran-islamic-republic-of, saudi-arabia, france

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