Syrian opposition turns down Moscow II invite

Syrian opposition turns down Moscow II invite
Syria's main opposition bloc, the Syrian National Coalition, has reportedly rejected an invitation to attend Moscow dialogue talks.
3 min read
23 March, 2015
The SNC have been opponents of Syria's security state [AFP]

Syria’s main opposition political bloc, the National Coalition of Syrian Revolution and Opposition Forces, also known as the Syrian National Coalition, concluded its 20th general assembly yesterday in the Turkish city of Istanbul.

One of the main outcomes of the meeting was that the Coalition will decline an invitation to attend the Moscow II forum.

Moscow II

     Moscow II does not rise to the level of negotiations.

- Hisham Marwah, Syrian National Coalition

Russia has been one of Assad's main allies during the war in Syria and opposition figures are skeptical about Moscow’s intentions.

They also want to avoid a repeat of Moscow I when numerous groups associated with the regime were invited under the banner of the "Syrian opposition".

"The Coalition will refuse to attend the Moscow II conference because the wording of the invitation was not clear and it did not rise to our expectations - namely, negotiating an end to the regime of Assad in Syria," said Coalition deputy Hisham Marwah.

The invitation they received mentioned only "dialogue talks", He added, with no mention that this would include negotiations with the regime.

"This means it will be a waste of time and without producing any concrete results, especially since the invitation does not clearly refer to Geneva II as a term of reference for this meeting," Marwah said. 

"In this sense, it does not rise to the level of negotiations, and perhaps it is much less than a conversation on the sidelines."

He said the invitation spoke of an "intra-Syrian dialogue", i.e. talks among the opposition.

Marwah says that the Cairo dialogue talks that are due to take place soon nullifies Moscow II.

"The Russian unwavering support for Assad's regime is a real obstacle to any new Russian role for a solution to the Syrian crisis," he said. 

Voice of opposition

"The Arab League issued a decision that considers the Coalition as the sole legitimate representative of the Syrian people, on the condition that the Coalition forms an executive committee," Marwah said. 

"Some Arab League voices, however, still do not agree to this, and the implementation of this decision remains up in the air."  

Marwah said that the talks also dealt with the issue of Syria's state of emergency law, a martial measure that has been imposed on the country since the Baath party coup in 1963.

It was agreed that areas under opposition control will be run under a temporary government and new national army, which will be part of "dismantling the legislative structure of the regime".

Freedom to the Syrian people will be restored, the Coalition said, by dissolving military and field tribunals.

The Coalition also agreed to annul eight laws related to martial law, crushing dissent, establishing a state security department, and prosecuting members of the Muslim Brotherhood.

Syria's main opposition group say they hold the regime responsible for all legal and constitutional violations of freedom and human rights by issuing these decrees.

This article is an edited translation from our Arabic edition.