The Syrian National Council, the self-declared “government in exile” opposing the regime of President Bashar al-Assad, has announced it will not be attending a second round of Geneva peace talks planned to begin on January 22.
In its rejection, the Istanbul-based council said the Assad regime had not declared a strong commitment to the aims of the original Geneva talks, held in last June, such as bringing in a transitional government and ending the war.
“They’ve done exactly the opposite, adding additional designations to Geneva II, calling it “fighting terrorism”, while continuing the actions of besieging, starving people, and throwing barrel bombs indiscriminately, without any action from the Arabic and international community to stop the Syrian regime’s aggressive activities and crimes.”
The council’s decision throws even more importance on a meeting of the Syrian National Coalition, an organisation which includes the Council as well as other opposition and military groups.
The meeting is due to focus on a vote on whether the Coalition will attend the Geneva peace talks, but needs a two-thirds majority, 81 out of 120 delegates, to pass.
Al Jazeera’s Anita McNaught spoke to SNC member Hisham Marwah and asked him if he thought the decision not to attend would affect the support given by the international community.
“The international community supports us to represent our people, not to do what they like,” he said.
“This is very important, that we are doing what the Syrian people want, and we can’t move away from this principle.
“When we go to Geneva II without a chance to achieve Geneva I statement we will achieve nothing. The people will not accept us being there without achieving a peaceful solution to our crisis.”