Syrian opposition group rejects invitation to Geneva II peace talks

BY newsdesk  January 16, 2014 at 5:23 PM EST
Photo by Fabrice Coffrini/AFP/Getty Images

The Syrian National Coalition Body will not attend the Geneva II peace talks held at the Montreux-Palace. Photo by Fabrice Coffrini/AFP/Getty Images

Syria’s centrist opposition coalition, the Syrian National Coalition Body, said it does not plan on participating in Geneva II peace talks.

In a statement released Wednesday, the SNCB cited several reasons behind its decision. One was the lack of time to prepare a delegation to the conference. The group said their invitation to Geneva II was received less than 10 days before the peace talks begin on Jan. 22.

“How can we create a unified delegation with a unified democratic platform four days before an international conference?” SNCB executive member Khaled Dahowd told Reuters on Thursday.

The SNCB statement also criticized Russia and the U.S. for failing to ensure a delegation that consists of leadership from three of the major opposition coalitions — the SNC, SNCB and the Kurdish Supreme Council.

“The American party was not keen on having a balanced and persuasive representative of the opposition, as ‘the Geneva Declaration’ demands,” the statement reads.

According to Reuters, another hindrance to participation is that several leaders of the Syrian opposition are in jail or barred from travel.

Unlike the Syrian National Coalition, the SNCB does not support an armed insurgency against the Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s regime. Instead, it desires a settlement to the nearly three-year conflict that focuses on setting up a democracy rather than removal of Assad.