Syria rejects Saudi and Qatari involvement in latest peace talks

19 January 2017

Peace talks brokered by Russia, Iran and Turkey are set to take place in Astana

Syria’s deputy foreign minister has rejected the participation of Saudi Arabia and Qatar in upcoming peace talks due to be held in Kazakhstan next week.

Faisal Meqdad was quoted on Lebanese television saying “Once Qatar and Saudi Arabia halt their support for terrorism we will discuss the matter of their participation in the talks.”

The peace talks, which are brokered by Russia, Iran and Turkey, are set to take place in Kazakhstan’s capital, Astana, on 23 January.

The Saudi Minister of Foreign Affairs Adel al-Jubeir said at the World Economic Forum in Davos on 17 January that the Syrian High Commission, which is supported by Riyadh, is “not involved in the Astana talks because the talks are for the fighting forces on the ground, not the policial parties involved.” Al-Jubeir also added that the Astana talks are expected to be a “technical discussion” used to come to an cease fire agreement that can then be taken to the UN. 

Iran and Russia have been supporters of Bashar al-Assad’s regime, while Turkey has supported rebel groups fighting the Syrian army.

A leading figure from the Jaish al-Islam rebel group was recently quoted by Associated Foreign Press news agency saying that “all the rebel groups are going [to Astana]. Everyone has agreed.”

The decision by Syria’s main bloc of rebel groups to send a delegation to the Astana talks came after five days of negotiations in Turkey’s capital, Ankara.

MEED recently reported that a ceasefire brokered by Russia and Turkey started at midnight on Friday 30 December.

The Syrian military says the ceasefire is a comprehensive end to hostilities in all Syrian territories, but does not apply to Jabhat al-Nusra and Isis and any groups affiliated to them.

The latest ceasefire has not included involvement from the US, which had been involved in earlier attempts at establishing peace.

Violence in Syria began in 2011. It is estimated that more than 400,000 people have died in the conflict.

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