One of the Syrian rebellion’s main umbrella organizations, the High Negotiations Committee (HNC), has warned that they consider it “unacceptable” for the United Nations to choose delegates for next month’s Geneva peace talks, while other rebels threatened to boycott the talks entirely without a guarantee of regime change.
The UN didn’t demand that they be allowed to choose the rebel delegation unilaterally, but rather special envoy Staffan de Mistura suggested that idea as a last resort if the rebels couldn’t agree on a delegation themselves, saying he wanted as inclusive of talks as possible.
The HNC was formed at the behest of Saudi Arabia ahead of previous talks, and while a relatively large umbrella group does exclude some noteworthy rebel factions, including a lot of purely secular factions, in favor of more moderate Islamist groups the Saudis have tended to favor.
The HNC’s leadership insists the delegation is not Mistura’s business, and noted he’d made no proposal to name the government’s delegation. Of course, the government has not struggled to come up with their own delegations and threatened to derail the talks for want of a decision.
The Geneva talks were initially scheduled for February 8, but were pushed back a month over the lack of an opposition delegation.