Saudi Arabia and Turkey have convinced Jordan to cross off two of their proxies from the list of Syria rebel groups banned from joining the political process.
Jordan has been tasked with coming up with a list of groups which are eligible to join the political process.
The Russians wanted to exclude Jaish Al Islam and Ahrar Al Sham, while Saudi Arabia insisted both are moderate and legitimate opposition groups.
Riyadh plans to host a meeting in early December inviting various Syrian opposition groups to come up with unified stance.
Ahrar Al Sham is a Saudi-funded and Turkish-backed rebel group, composed of around 20,000 fighters and located mainly in the Idlib province and the Aleppo countryside in Syria’s north.
Jaish Al Islam is a powerful rebel group in Ghouta, an agricultural belt surrounding Damascus. It has around 25,000 fighters and is commanded by Zahran Alloush, the son of a Saudi-based Syrian cleric who has been officially hosted by the Saudi and Turkish governments.
International and regional powers who gathered in Vienna earlier this month agreed to host face to face talks between the Syrian government and its opponents by January 1.
Iran is refusing to talk of any ‘transitioning body’. It insists that only a ‘cabinet of national unity’ will be accepted by Damascus and must be signed by Syrian President Bashar Al Assad.
Reconciliation Minister Ali Haidar has also said that Damascus refuses any timetable imposed from abroad, hinting that the government will scrap all dictates of early presidential elections in the summer of 2017. Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif pointed out that Vienna calls for elections in 2017, without specifying if they are to be presidential or parliamentary.
His Syrian counterpart Walid Al Mua’alem is travelling to Moscow this week, hoping to reverse the Vienna outcomes by calling for a constitutional assembly first to amend the Syrian Constitution before creating a “cabinet of national unity.” The agreed formula at Vienna was for a new government to see the light by mid-2016 and for this cabinet, which would include members of the opposition, to set the stage for a new constitution and early parliamentary and presidential elections.
By Sami Moubayed
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