Asharq Al-awsat English Middle-east and International News and Opinion from Asharq Al-awsat Newspaper

Washington Pledges to Meet with Syrian Opposition Every 3 Months

Washington Pledges to Meet with Syrian Opposition Every 3 Months

Monday, 22 November, 2021 - 06:30
American officials and Syrian opposition figures meet last week. (Asharq Al-Awsat)

The United States has faced heavy criticism from the Syrian opposition because of its idle stance from normalization campaign that some Arab countries have carried out with the Damascus regime.

The American response to the criticism, however, was clear in saying that it did not support these efforts, while at the same it has not taken moves to deter them.

The American administration, in turn, believes that criticism of its Syria policy is unfounded. To prove the critics wrong, it dispatched officials to meet with the Syrian opposition in northeastern Syria and the national coalition in Istanbul.

Asharq Al-Awsat learned from Syrian and American sources that the meeting between the opposition and official State Department delegation underscored America's strong rejection of normalizing ties with Bashar Assad's regime. The delegation also sought to refute claims that Washington supported normalization efforts led by some Arab countries.

The delegation was led by Ethan Goldrich, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs.

The sources said the talks shed light on the true stance of the American administration that does not support "diplomatic normalization" even though they do not fall under the Caesar Act. As for "economic normalization", Washington stressed that it also opposed this approach.

The American delegation demanded that the Syrian opposition activate the interim opposition government so that it can play central and administrative roles in regions under its control - namely in the northeast that is held by the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF).

On the request that the US increase support to the Euphrates Shield and Olive Branch region operations, Goldrich said that fulfilling this demand needs a political decision from the White House.

Moreover, the American officials stressed there will be no support to reconstruction operations in Syria until after the political solution ends the country's crisis. They called for international monitoring of the elections of the opposition government.

They pledged that the opposition and American administration would meet again after three months.

The opposition urged the American delegation to impose new sanctions on the regime and commit to playing a stronger political role. It urged it against distinguishing between various opposition groups.

Goldrich confirmed that some voices from the US have been demanding that new sanctions be imposed on the regime.

After meeting the opposition last week, he said the US has three main goals to fulfill in Syria: Continue American humanitarian assistance along with international partners; continue the fight against ISIS; and prevent the escalation of violence in the country.

He stressed the need to reach a political solution based on United Nations Security Council resolution 2254.

The meeting also discussed the security and economic difficulties in north and eastern Syria and ways to increase humanitarian support to overcome the effects of the war and strengthen infrastructure and economic development to ensure security and stability. The US delegation stressed the importance of maintaining the de-escalation and ceasefire agreement in the region and Syria in general, in addition to continuing efforts to achieve the enduring defeat of ISIS.

Several media sources said the American official had implicitly called for the need to hold dialogue between the SDF and other opposition groups, as well as revive the American proposal over uniting the file of regions outside the control of the regime, namely in Syria's northeast and northwest.

US-based opposition political researcher Ayman Abdel Nour described the American visit as a good step, but said it was not enough, especially in wake of the United Arab Emirates' move to normalize relations with Damascus. The normalization took place after Abu Dhabi and Washington held a series of meetings and discussions over the matter.

Abdel Nour told Asharq Al-Awsat that the meeting between the UAE and Israeli foreign ministers with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken in Washington a week before the UAE FM met with Assad in Damascus was seen by some opposition leaderships as an American-Israeli blessing of normalization.

"We fear that other countries would follow in the UAE's footsteps even though the normalization has only taken place before the media and has not reached the diplomatic level," he added.

The world is waiting a clear decisive political stance from the US and its allies, he stated.

Editor Picks