Washington's Softening Stance on Assad Worries Hardline Syrian Opposition

© AFP 2023 / MARTIN BUREAUUS president Barack Obama speaks during a press conference on December 1, 2015 at the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) in Paris
US president Barack Obama speaks during a press conference on December 1, 2015 at the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) in Paris - Sputnik International
Ahead of the Geneva talks Syrian opposition groups are expressing doubts regarding Washington's influence over Syrian matters and its determination to end the rule of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Syrian opposition representative George Sabra. (File) - Sputnik International
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The credibility of the Obama administration among Syrian opposition leaders is beginning to suffer, Nahal Toosi, a foreign affairs correspondent at Politico, stresses, referring to their growing concerns over Washington's stance toward democratically elected Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

"If the talks peter out or collapse, that will further undermine President Barack Obama's foreign policy legacy, which already has been tarnished by the endless bloodshed in Syria," Toosi notes in her article, citing Syrian opposition representatives.

The opposition groups backed by Saudi Arabia have expressed their dissatisfaction with US Secretary of State John Kerry's "soft" stance on Bashar al-Assad's participation in a would-be Syrian "national government."

"Kerry did not make any promises, nor did he put forward any initiatives. He has long been delivering messages similar to those drafted by Iran and Russia which call for the establishment of a 'national government' and allowing Bashar al-Assad to stay in power and stand for re-election," President of the Syrian Coalition Khaled Khoja said commenting on Kerry's talks with the Syrian opposition's High Negotiations Committee formed in Saudi Arabia.

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On Wednesday, the High Negotiations Committee demanded that the Assad government should lift its sieges on parts of Syria as a condition for the opposition group's participation in the Geneva talks.

Meanwhile, the Syrian leadership has agreed to take part in peace negotiations that are due to start on January 29.

"There are political risks. But those political risks and tensions… should take into account that our line… is clear: no preconditions, at least to start the talks…. The rest is open," United Nations Syria envoy Staffan de Mistura told journalists on January 25.

While the Syrian government's stance regarding the peace efforts is quite clear, controversy still surrounds the so-called Syrian opposition.

Analysts point to the fact that it is hard to separate the wheat from the chaff and decide which groups should be designated as terrorists in Syria.

There are myriads of opposition groups which collaborate closely with either al-Qaeda or Daesh (Islamic State/ISIL) in the region, Joe Lauria, a veteran foreign-affairs journalist based at the UN since 1990, writes in his article for ConsortiumNews.com.

"A hundred of them were melded together by Saudi Arabia in Riyadh last November. But they want Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to step down immediately. That's a complete non-starter as the UN plan would allow him to stay on for six months making way for a transitional government until a new constitution is written and a general election held in 2017," he underscores.

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