Saudi Arabia is hosting a three-day meeting in Riyadh to try to unite the Syrian opposition before potential talks with the government of President Bashar al-Assad.
Previous attempts to do this have failed miserably, but this time international peace efforts are gaining momentum.
There is a need for the opposition to speak in one voice and present a common vision for Syria’s future, but the different alliances in this conflict form a complicated maze with no clear way through.
The major barrier to the success of these talks is the decision by Saudi Arabia not to invite the Democratic Union Party (PYD), the largest Kurdish group, and its armed wing, the YPG. Its allies, the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), have also not been invited but, instead, will be holding a separate meeting in Syria’s north-eastern province of Hasakah.
The Saudi meeting comes in the midst of international efforts to restart peace negotiations with the Syrian government and the need to create a united delegation to represent the opposition.
Foreign backers of the warring sides disagree on whether the Syrian leader Assad can remain in power during the transition process, and the opposition is just as divided.
According to Louay Safi, who was a member of the opposition delegation which attended the first peace conference held in Geneva last year, “The majority of the opposition believes Assad is part of the problem. There can’t be a solution unless he steps down immediately.”
While Syria’s Kurds will be represented, the exclusion of the PYD, YPG and SDF has caused tension even before talks in Riyadh start.
In a statement, the PYD said: “We’re not concerned with the output from the Riyadh conference and we will act like it never happened. No one, whoever they may be, can impose on us any decision in which we did not take part.”
- Pray for the talk in Riyadh, for progress is seeking a peaceful solution to the war in Syria, and for agreement amongst the opposition groups as to the way forward in this.
- Pray for the Kurdish groups who have been excluded from the talks, that they too will be prepared to work towards peace in Syria.
- Pray for Syria, a country devastated by years of war. Pray for peace, for healing and for renew hope for the people of this country.
Zechariah 9 vs 10: “He will cut off the chariot from Ephraim and the warhorse from Jerusalem; and the battle-bow shall be cut off, and he shall command peace to the nations; his dominion shall be from sea to sea, and from the River to the ends of the earth.”