Nasr al-Hariri to Asharq Al-Awsat: Syria’s HNC to Meet in Riyadh to Discuss Post-Sochi Phase

Nasr al-Hariri to Asharq Al-Awsat: Syria’s HNC to Meet in Riyadh to Discuss Post-Sochi Phase

Sunday, 4 February, 2018 - 10:30
Nasr al-Hariri, Head of the Syrian High Negotiations Committee (HNC), attends a news conference before the opening of Intra Syria talks in Geneva, Switzerland November 27, 2017. (Reuters)
Riyadh - Fateh al-Rahman Youssef
The Syrian High Negotiations Committee (HNC) will hold a meeting in Riyadh on February 10 to discuss misinterpretations surrounding the Commission’s non-participation in the Sochi congress, Dr. Nasr al-Hariri, the head of the HNC told Asharq Al-Awsat, in an exclusive interview from the Saudi capital.

Hariri underlined Saudi Arabia’s valuable contribution to international efforts to activate the Geneva political process, and its keenness on the independence of the Syrian decisions.

Asked about the Commission’s initial rejection to participate in the Sochi conference, Hariri said: “The Commission’s decision not to attend the Sochi talks was taken democratically and institutionally, in compliance with the will of our people, who refused to participate through dozens of statements issued by local factions, councils, civil society organizations, parties and political figures.”

Turkey was mandated to represent the HNC at the talks.

“Those who mandated Turkey are the group of opposition figures in the delegation that went to Sochi and refused to enter the conference hall because emblems and signs of the regime were there. The group therefore brought its demands to the Turkish friends in order to submit them to the organizers of the conference,” the HNC chief explained.

He noted in this regard that the Commission would hold a meeting in Riyadh on February 10 to discuss misunderstandings regarding its participation in the congress.

On the upcoming round of the Geneva talks and whether they would benefit from the outcome of the Sochi talks, Hariri underlined the need to work in a manner that would guarantee the implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 2254, in terms of the launching of the transitional phase.

The transitional governing body will be composed of the regime, the opposition and other groups, according to the Geneva statement.

“I believe that a constitutional and electoral process cannot be carried out without a proper transitional atmosphere, and that’s what we mean by the transitional phase,” Hariri said, adding: “The current government, army, security and existing laws are not neutral, so the solution lies in the formation of a transitional governing body.”

The head of the HNC said that Iran was among the parties that sought to obstruct the success of the negotiations, whether at the humanitarian, military or security levels.

“There are several parties that have no interest in reaching a political solution, and have always hindered the success of the negotiations, whether at the humanitarian, military or political levels.
Among them are the regime, Iran and terrorist militias that spread chaos and impede the political solution,” he affirmed.

Hariri went on to say: “Based on our vision of a political solution, all foreign forces should be removed from Syria, especially the Iranian forces. Tehran has a sectarian expansion project in the region and is committing horrendous crimes with sectarian slogans that are leading to a counter-reaction.”

On the role of Russia, the head of the HNC accused Moscow of trying to cover the practices of the Syrian regime and attempting to reach a political solution that is best tailored to the regime’s interests.

“Today, in our visit and dialogue with Russia, we seek and hope that Moscow will have a neutral role that will effectively support the political solution. This solution, in our view, must serve the interests of all,” Hariri told Asharq Al-Awsat.

He emphasized the role assumed by Saudi Arabia in pushing the Syrian file towards a political solution.

“Saudi Arabia played a very important role in pushing the Syrian file towards a political solution, as well as supporting the demands of the people over the past seven years through the holding the Riyadh conference,” he remarked.

The conference united all the opposition forces and the Syrian revolution factions in a serious and responsible attempt to overcome obstacles hindering the progress of the negotiating process in Geneva, he stressed.

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