HOT MIC, HOT MESS: Cameras caught Deputy Syrian Foreign Minister Feisal al-Miqdad whispering with Mohammed al-Mohammed, a Syrian embassy employee in Geneva, about whether al-Miqdad should answer challenging questions during the press conference, which took place at the second round of the Geneva II peace talks on Tuesday.
Problem was, they happened to be having the conversation inches away from more than a dozen microphones and cameras that were already rolling in the minutes leading up to the press conference.
“Do you want it all, or to pick and choose?” al-Mohammed asked al-Miqdad, asking whether the minister would like to pre-select the reporters whose questions he will answer.
“We are presenting a very bad image, because we are not giving the opposite opinion. We are being selective,” al-Miqdad responds, suggesting he believed his press conferences had not allowed enough difficult questions from non-loyalist journalists.
“But there are inflammatory [journalists],” al-Mohammed responds, cautioning al-Miqdad from opening the press conference to any and all questions.
In the conference’s first round, Omran al-Zoubi, the Syrian Information Minister, was videotaped evading a barrage of questions from a Syrian reporter about regime forces engaging in repeated barrel bombings of Aleppo.
Al-Miqdad’s slip came after the second day of the second round of the peace talks Tuesday in Switzerland, where the Syrian government and its opposition find themselves returning to the same semantic maze the first round of Geneva II talks produced three weeks ago.
“There is no principle change in the demands of the coalition to form a transitional ruling body, as the fundamental key and the first article which must be applied to combat terrorism,” Nora al-Amir, the vice president of the Syrian National Coalition, said Tuesday. Al-Amir was referring to the article of the June 2012 Geneva Communiqué calling for a transitional government, which the Coalition has insisted be the basis for any negotiations.
The government has also remained firm in its stance. Al-Assad’s delegation “will not discuss any article from the Geneva Communiqué under any pressure or before violence stops,” al-Zoubi, the Information Minister, told official news agency SANA Wednesday.
Later in al-Miqdad’s press conference, one of the “inflammatory” journalists asked al-Miqdad about the barrel bombs Syrian air force helicopters have been dropping on Aleppo.
“You are not presenting a question, you are presenting an accusation,” said al-Miqdad, declining to respond.