The fate of President Bashar al-Assad will play no part in talks to end the Syrian war, the head of the government’s delegation says, leading the U.
N. peace envoy to warn that lack of progress on the issue could threaten a fragile cessation of hostilities.
Saudi Arabia, Turkey ‘block’ Syria peace
Hezbollah has accused Saudi Arabia and Turkey of obstructing efforts to reach a political solution in Syria, saying Riyadh did not want to see any progress at Geneva peace talks aimed at ending five years of conflict.
Iranian-backed Hezbollah and Saudi Arabia have for years been on opposing sides of Syria’s civil war, but relations have worsened in recent months – mirroring the growing hostility between Riyadh and Tehran, the region’s two rival powers.
“What is disrupting any progress towards a political solution is firstly Saudi Arabia, and secondly Turkey,” Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah told Al Mayadeen television in an interview.
Shi’ite Muslim Hezbollah has sent fighters to Syria to support President Bashar al-Assad.
Saudi Arabia and Turkey, which insist Assad must leave power, have been supporting Sunni Muslim insurgents fighting to overthrow him.
“Saudi Arabia doesn’t want any progress in the negotiations in Geneva,” Nasrallah said, adding Riyadh might be holding out until the US presidential election in November to see whether a new administration might pursue a different policy on Syria.
“So I don’t expect progress in the political process or a political solution,” he said.
His criticism of Riyadh comes nearly three weeks after the Gulf Co-operation Council (GCC), which groups Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman and Qatar, declared Hezbollah a terrorist organisation.
Saudi Arabia said last week it would punish anyone who belongs to Hezbollah, sympathises with it, supports it financially or harbours any of its members.