Saudi Arabia believes that the talks in the Kazakh capital Astana could lead to a stable ceasefire, according to the statement made by the Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir. He expressed hope for reaching a ceasefire saying that the Astana talks are worth testing. He also confessed that so far the negotiation process has not resulted in the halt of fighting and transition to peaceful settlement.
Al-Jubeir also mentioned that if the talks succeed, the way of political means should be studied more closely. He refused to comment on the talks agenda, pointing out that its possible success does not mean that the Kingdom abandon Syrian moderate opposition who fights for toppling the government of Bashar al-Assad.
This statement was further confirmed by the two-day meeting between Saudi diplomats and Syrian opposition figures which has been recently held in the Saudi capital Riyadh. The meeting served to coordinate positions of Saudi Foreign Ministry and the opposition High Negotiation Committee. After the meeting the HNC declared its extended support for the opposition delegation to the Astana talks and expressed hope for consolidating the ceasefire and giving new momentum to the Geneva talks.
We could only hope that Saudi Arabia, which is currently suffering from defeats in the war with the Houthi rebels in Yemen, is not going to undermine the Astana talks to sabotage the peaceful settlement process. At the same time the HNC, feeling pressure and being a Kingdom’s proxy, could persist in its efforts for ousting Bashar al-Assad.
By Sophie Mangal
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