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Jarba says removal of Assad ‘only topic’ at Geneva


January 22, 2014

TOO BIG TO FAIL: Syrian National Coalition President Ahmad Jarba reminded participants Wednesday at the opening of the Geneva talks that the Coalition’s participation is predicated on the Geneva I Communiqué, which stipulates “the establishment of a transitional governing body, which is the topic of this conference – and its only topic.”

“Any discussion about Assad remaining in power, under any conceivable circumstances, is a departure from Geneva II,” he added. He went on to accuse the Syrian regime of facilitating the rise of the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIS), and to demand that the Syrian government delegation sign on to Geneva I.

Syrian Foreign Minister Wallid al-Moallem struck a defiant tone in an address lasting 25 minutes. “Nobody in the world, Mr. Kerry, has the right to grant or rescind the legitimacy of a president, government, constitution, law, or anything else in Syria, except for the Syrians themselves,” he said, responding to his American counterpart’s statement that President Bashar al-Assad could not participate in a transitional government.

In his speech, al-Moallem attacked Turkey, the United States and Gulf countries that have supported the Syrian opposition, accusing them of financing “terrorism in Syria.”

Wednesday’s session of the Geneva conference is limited to opening address; the negotiations themselves will begin on Friday.

Video courtesy of BBC Arabic.

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