MOSCOW, October 14 (RIA Novosti) – Russia’s foreign minister on Monday said a key Syrian opposition group’s refusal to take part in the Moscow-backed Geneva-2 peace conference on Syria indicates that the West has failed to deliver on its promises.
The Istanbul-based Syrian National Council’s (SNC) head George Sabra said Sunday that “nothing useful” would come out of the meeting, and added that the Istanbul-based SNC would consult Syrians on the ground, including the Free Syrian Army rebel force, before deciding on its next move.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said that Sabra’s statement “confirms once again that we need to convene the conference as soon as possible.”
Lavrov said that, despite repeated reassurances from “our American partners” that they would mobilize all the diverse elements of the Syrian opposition to attend the conference “under the umbrella of the National Coalition,” there have been no results.
In contrast to what he called the West’s lack of influence over the Syrian opposition groups, Lavrov stressed that Russia exerts influence over the Syrian government, which delivers “real results.”
The Syrian National Council, formed in 2011 as an opposition government in exile, has won limited diplomatic recognition from a number of countries, including the US. In November 2012, it joined the broader Syrian National Coalition, which is recognized by 20 UN members as the sole legitimate representative of the Syrian people and has Syria’s seat in the Arab League.
The government of Syrian President Bashar Assad has said it is willing to attend the Geneva-2 conference without any preconditions. Most rebel groups say the removal of Assad and his entourage is a necessary precondition to ensuring a political solution to the Syrian conflict, which the UN estimates has claimed over 100,000 lives.