Executive Intelligence Review


Syria Dialogue Conference Opens in Sochi, Russia

Jan. 29, 2018 (EIRNS)—The Congress for Syrian National Dialogue opened in Sochi, Russia this morning, with the presence of UN Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura, but without the presence of the Riyadh-sponsored half of the Syrian opposition, the Higher Negotiation Committee.

“We regret very much that the leadership of the Syrian opposition’s Higher Negotiation Committee, that took part in inter-Syrian negotiations in Vienna under the chairmanship of Staffan de Mistura, made such a statement about its unwillingness to take part in the congress. We hope that common sense will prevail, ... the invitation remains on the table,”

Alexander Lavrentyev, the Russian special envoy for Syria, said today, according to Turkey’s Anadolu Agency. De Mistura was to have met with Lavrentyev, as well as the Turkish and Iranian envoys, today, for consultations. Russia, Turkey and Iran are the guarantors of the Syrian ceasefire mediated under the “Astana Process.”

Qadri Jamil, the head of the Moscow platform of opposition, told the Russian daily Kommersant, in an article cited by a TASS press review, that opponents of the visit to Sochi within the HNC “strongly regretted their decision” after they learned that de Mistura was going to attend the Dialogue Congress. Russia Presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov reiterated the Russian view, this morning, that the non-attendance of some Syrian representatives will not hinder the Congress.

Kommersant also reports that the main output of the conference will be a commission to draft a constitutional reform. Reuters cites Interfax reporting that de Mistura will chair that commission. Kommersant also says that de Mistura’s presence at the Congress is a diplomatic victory for Russia—as many Syrian politicians wanted to make sure that the Congress would receive the blessing of the UN before deciding on the trip.