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The actors of the Syrian negotiations in Geneva

Ⓒ POOL/AFP/Archivos – Xu Jinquan – | The UN emissary for Syria, Staffan de Mistura, during negotiations in Geneva on July 14, 2017

A new round of negotiations on Syria begins on Tuesday in Geneva, under the auspices of the UN, in a context in which the Syrian regime dominates on the ground, multiplying its victories thanks to its Russian ally.

These are the main actors of this eighth round of negotiations in the Swiss city, where a unified delegation will represent for the first time the different opposition groups:

– The regime –

Since the beginning of the negotiations in Geneva in 2014, the Syrian regime is represented by a delegation of political leaders, today led by Bashar Jaafari, the permanent representative of Damascus at the UN.

The regime currently controls 55% of the country. Thanks to the support of Russian aviation, he was able to wrest extensive territories from the rebels and the jihadists of the Islamic State (IS) group.

Under these conditions, several Western countries that demanded the departure of President Bashar al-Assad at the beginning of the conflict are now more cautious.

The delegation of the regime has always categorically rejected Assad’s resignation and considers that the future of the president has to be decided by a vote of the Syrians.

He has always proposed a “union” government, which would not put the regime in doubt.

Ⓒ POOL/AFP/Archivos – Salvatore di Nolfi – | Bashar Jaafari, the permanent representative of Damascus at the UN and responsible for negotiations under the aegis of the body in Geneva, in a picture of July 10, 2017 in the Swiss city

In Geneva, its objectives will focus on a revision of the Constitution and the organization of parliamentary elections.

To date, negotiations with the opposition have been made indirectly. The regime refuses to sit at the same table as the dissidents, to whom it reproaches its lack of unity, and even qualifies some of them as “terrorists”.

On Monday, the regime did not finish clarifying if it will participate in the new round of negotiations. “The government has not yet confirmed its participation in the Geneva negotiations,” said UN envoy Staffan de Mistura, adding that he expected his arrival “very soon.”

– The opposition –

For almost two years, the opposition was represented in Geneva by the High Negotiations Committee (HCN), which mainly brought together the National Coalition, the first opposition force in exile, and the representatives of the armed rebels who control certain regions. from the country.

Created in December 2015 in Riyadh, the HCN has always demanded the departure of Asad before the beginning of a period of transition under the direction of an executive body with full powers.

Supported by Saudi Arabia and the United States, the HCN is considered the only legitimate representative of the “revolution” of the Syrian people.

Other opposition formations participate, however, in the negotiations, such as the Cairo Group and the Moscow Group, accused by the HCN of being more conciliatory with respect to Asad.

On November 22, the opposition met in Riyadh and created a 36-member committee that includes all opposition tendencies for the first time.

This committee is made up of eight members of the National Coalition, four from the Cairo Group, four from the Moscow Group and seven representatives from the rebels.

This opposition delegation will be led by Nasr Hariri, with experience in peace negotiations.

Ⓒ AFP/Archivos – Fabrice Coffrini – | The head of the new delegation of the Syrian opposition, Nasr al Hariri (center), during a press conference before negotiations in Geneva on May 19, 2017

This instance says that it is willing to carry out direct negotiations with the regime, although it continues to demand the departure of Assad. A condition that already caused the Moscow Group to express its “reservations”.

– Staffan de Mistura –

The special envoy of the UN is a veteran diplomat whose “chronic optimism” clashes head on for more than three years with the stumbling block of the Syrian conflict.

This Italian-Swedish received in June 2014 the “impossible mission” – in the words of former Secretary General of the United Nations Ban Ki-moon – to find a peaceful solution to the conflict, which began six years ago.

De Mistura, 70 years old, has worked for the UN for more than four decades in numerous regions in crisis, such as Lebanon, Somalia, Sudan, Rwanda and the Balkans.

Since 2016, he has managed to get the representatives of the Syrian government and the opposition to go to Geneva seven times.

The polyglot diplomat is to take arms. In the middle of the battle of Aleppo, the second city of the country completely reconquered by the regime last December, the UN envoy proposed to travel to the city in person in order to guarantee the rebels a safe conduct if they agreed to withdraw from the neighborhoods under your control. The jihadists rejected the proposal.

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