The Syrian Opposition, represented by the Saudi and US-backed High Negotiations Committee (HNC), has formally rejected Bashar al-Assad’s proposition of creating a transitional government that would include several leading opposition members.
Furthermore, the Pentagon and Mohammed Alloush, the main HNC representative, said they could in no way accept Bashar al-Assad staying in power in any shape or form, during a response to the media yesterday.
Assad, bolstered by the military victory at Palmyra, was quoted by Russia’s RIA news agency as saying a new constitution could be ready in weeks and a government that included opposition, independents and loyalists could be agreed.
With the Geneva peace talks set to resume next month, Assad remarked that “these were not difficult questions”.
Opposition negotiators immediately dismissed his remarks, saying that a political settlement could be reached only by establishing a transitional body with full powers, not another government under Assad.
“What Bashar Assad is talking about has no relation to the political process,” said George Sabra, another representative of the High Negotiations Committee.
But the Syrian President said the very idea of a transitional body and new President was “illogical and unconstitutional”.
Russia’s 6-month-old intervention in Syria helped to swing military momentum in Assad’s favor, reversing last summer’s gains by insurgents including Western-backed rebels and helping government forces to drive ISIS out of Palmyra Sunday.
Assad also told RIA the war had cost more than $200 billion in economic losses and damage to infrastructure. That is in line with a U.N.-backed body which estimates physical damage at $90 billion, with an additional $169 billion of accumulated losses from a collapse in GDP to less than half the 2011 level.