Saudi, no legitimate negotiator on Syria peace: Analyst
Press TV has interviewed Peter Koenig, a geopolitical analyst in Lima, to discuss a meeting held by Syrian opposition groups in the Saudi capital, Riyadh.
The following is a rough transcription of the interview.
Press TV: What do you make of Riyadh actually holding this meeting? What is behind it and what do you think that they are trying to accomplish before the actual main talks on the Syrian situation?
Koenig: Well it is very clear. I think we have to start from the beginning. Who started this civil war in the first place? The preparations started in 2007, was activated by CIA, Saudi Arabia and all the different al-Nusra, al-Qaeda, whatever they may [be] called groups, sort of mercenaries for the United States which has a vital interest to dominate also Syria for a number of reasons about which we can speak later if you like.
But it is very clear from the very beginning that there should be, as Mr. Putin said on several occasions, there should be no outsider being able to interfere in Syria’s affairs. Let’s face it. I mean Mr. Assad has been re-elected about 18 months ago by a vast majority of the people, I think about 80 percent, and even according to recent Le Figaro from France,Le Figaro conservative newspaper, about 70 percent of the population still today support Mr. Assad. So who – especially Saudi Arabia – who would be in a position to talk about the Syrian internal affairs? Nobody other than [the Syrians] and I think if the international community now is ready to make an effort to bring peace to Syria, then it should certainly not be in Saudi Arabia.
Saudi Arabia is the enemy number one of Mr. Assad and they will not relent along with the United States. They are just actually playing out the role for the United States. They will not relent until they get Mr. Assad removed.
Press TV: When we look at the situation, you are saying that they will not relent until Mr. Assad steps down and on the other side we have seen that the Syrian government itself also with the support of Russia and also Iran has been adamant basically in saying whatever the Syrian people chooses, whichever choice, with Assad or without Assad, that is up to the Syrian people, so there seems to be a very wide gap between these two sides. Are you optimistic that these talks can begin to get to the point that we could probably be seeing the beginning of the end of this war?
Koenig: That is a very good question and I totally agree with Iran’s position and also with Russia’s position that the decision about the future of Syria should not be taken by people outside of Syria. It is a decision to be made by the Syrian people.
Now where should that take place? Certainly not in Saudi Arabia. Perhaps in Damascus but if you want to look for a really neutral place then you may want to go to Geneva or to Vienna and start sort of negotiations, peace negotiations and include as many groups as possible but as the last Thursday meeting in Riyadh has shown that the opposition is not united at all.
So even among the opposition members there were walkouts and disagreements. Thus from that point of view I think it is very …, well that is a negative foreboding for fruitful negotiations but I still believe that those groups who are willing and I am sure there are some opposition groups within even those that are currently operating out of Syria that would be willing to negotiate of course with Mr. Assad’s presence because he is the President after all and he should not discarded in a neutral place. This could take the form of similar negotiations or similar talks as were the case with Iran and the so-called nuclear deal. But in any case Saudi Arabia should not be, by any means, considered as a legitimate partner for these negotiations or as a legitimate place.