In the wake of the UN Special Envoy for Syria’s announcement that Syrian peace talks in Geneva would be delayed until February 25th, Syrian opposition leader Bassma Kodmani blamed Russian aggression for the postponement. In an interview with Deutsche Welle, Kodmani told correspondent Naomi Conrad that it is clear that Russia is not interested in a political solution to the conflict that has ravaged Syria for nearly 5 years.
“Were the Russians preparing all along to discredit the US in this very visible and obvious manner by launching this operation just as the talks were supposed to start? That is really a very big question. To us, it seems that this is about settling the whole conflict militarily; they are not interested in a political solution it seems – that really is the message we have received from Russia,” the Syrian academic said.
Kodmani went on to state that despite the fact that the Russian Foreign Ministry claims that the Kremlin is seeking peace in Syria, their military actions suggest otherwise.
“In the last two months, Moscow was saying that they were looking for a ceasefire and a political process. .. it would have been possible to start negotiating, but instead, we saw the air raids. So now, we see that the words we heard from Russia are in total contradiction to its behavior on the ground!”
The Syrian opposition leader painted a bleak picture of the situation in the country, explaining that the Free Syria Army is involved in battles against not only the forces of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, but several other armed groups as well, including militants of the so-called Islamic State. “We are fighting three major forces with just the Free Syrian Army and the limited weapons we have. The misbalance is obvious to everyone,” Kodmani exclaimed.
When asked what the next steps were, Komandi answered “we will wait for what the international partners discuss. We believe that the members of the UN Security Council are entitled to an explanation from Russia about why it torpedoed the process here.”
Bassman Komandi is a member of the Saudi-backed Syrian High Negotiations Committee, which has demanded that the al-Assad regime allow humanitarian access to all regions in Syria, and that the bombing of civilians cease immediately.
The meetings to be held in Geneva are part of a peace process outlined in a UN resolution adopted last month that set forth an 18 month timetable for a political transition in Syria, which is meant to bring about elections and a new constitution.