Syrian Peace Talks
by Stephen Lendman
Obama’s war on Syria rages. Opposition forces are divided. Kofi Annan’s March 2012 six-point plan failed. Three months later, so did Geneva I.
June 2012 talks were called a “last ditch effort” to halt violence. Similar headlines followed Annan’s plan. Fighting rages daily.
Obama bears full responsibility. He deplores peace. He wants regime change. He’s supporting proxy death squads. He has been all along.
They target Assad loyalists. Dozens of innocent civilians die daily. Assad’s wrongfully blamed for their crimes. Nothing suggests change ahead.
Geneva I talks included America, Russia, China, Britain, France, Turkey, Iraq (Chair of the Summit of the League of Arab States), Kuwait (Chair of the Council of Foreign Ministers of the League of Arab States), and Qatar (Chair of the Arab Follow-up Committee on Syria of the League of Arab States).
Foreign Affairs and Security Policy High Representative Catherine Ashton attended. So did then UN/Arab League Envoy for Syria Kofi Annan.
Iran and Syria were noticeably absent. Excluding them compromised discussions. On June 30, 2012, Action Group members issues a final communique. Steps and measures agreed on included:
- ending armed conflict;
- implementing Annan’s peace plan;
- adhering to provisions of Security Council Resolutions 2042 and 2043;
- releasing detainees;
- ensuring “freedom of movement throughout the country for journalists on a non-discriminatory visa policy for them;”
- respecting freedom of association and right to demonstrate peacefully;
- respect for and cooperation with UNSMIS (UN Supervision Mission in Syria) observers and securing their safety and security;
- allowing immediate and full humanitarian access to areas needing help;
- evacuating the wounded and civilians wishing to leave; and
- adhering fully with international law provisions.
Political transition guidelines and principles included:
- a Syrian-led transition for everyone in the country;
- establishing clear steps and a firm time frame toward realizing stated goals;
- ensuring safety, stability and calm to assure doing so; and
- avoiding further bloodshed and violence.
Agreed on steps, measures, guideline and principles failed to resolve conflict. Will Geneva II be different? It’s hard imagining how.
On Sunday, Arab League Secretary-General Nabil Elaraby said talks are scheduled for November 23 and 24.
At the same time, UN/League Special Envoy to Syria, Lakhdar Brahimi, said no date is confirmed. Many obstacles remain.
“I will visit a number of regional countries to know their stances and opinions on the conference to end the crisis in Syria and halt the war through a cease-fire or at least decreasing it,” he said.
Syrian National Council (SNC) spokesman Najib Ghadbian earlier said some opposition forces won’t participate. Elements refusing say attending depends on Assad stepping down.
It’s unclear which opposition groups will participate. It’s uncertain if any will. It’s unknown if Geneva II will be held as planned.
It was initially scheduled for June. Now it’s November. Perhaps further delays will follow.
Syrian Information Minister Omran al-Zoubi said his government will attend with no preconditions. Resolving conflict requires committed peace partners. It demands reversing longstanding US policy.
Syria won’t negotiate with terrorists or Takfiris (Muslims accusing others of apostasy).
“Political solution has been the original choice for the Syrian government since the beginning of aggression,” al-Zoubi added.
Syria prioritizes it. On Monday, US Deputy Secretary of State William Burns met with Russia’s Special Envoy to the Middle East, Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov. They did so in Moscow.
A Foreign Ministry statement said:
“The focus was put on the task of speeding up conveying the crisis in Syria into the course of the political settlement through the international conference, Geneva 2, with the aim of implementing the Geneva statement issued last June 30, 2012.”
Days earlier, SNC president George Sabra refused to attend Geneva II talks, saying:
“The Syrian National Council, which is the biggest bloc in the Coalition, has taken the firm decision not to go to Geneva, under the present circumstances.”
“This means that we will not stay in the Coalition if it goes.” At issue is wanting to negotiate from strength. Opposition elements are no match against Syria’s superior military.
Sabra wants direct US intervention. Perhaps later. Not now. Without it, opposition forces have no chance to advance their objectives.
Car bombings and other terror tactics continue daily. Innocent civilians die. Others are abducted, tortured and murdered. Syrians deplore what’s happening.
They want nothing to do with belligerent anti-government elements. They want no one interfering with their right to choose who’ll lead them.
On October 14, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said SNC president George Sabra’s refusal to participate in talks “proves again that it is necessary to convene the conference as soon as possible.”
“The key obstacle is that our partners (mainly Washington) are unable to make the Syrian opposition to go to Geneva and start talks with the government.”
It’s “necessary to determine the date of the conference as soon as possible because the delay plays in the hands of Jihadists, radicals, extremists and terrorist groups that strengthen their positions more and more. Risks are real that they can win in several areas of Syria.”
“By delaying the Geneva-2 conference, we create favorable conditions for continuing the bloody war and strengthening the positions of radical and extremist forces.”
Washington assumed responsibility for assuring opposition participation, said Lavrov.
“Our partners said they would succeed in gathering all parties to take part in the conference under the auspices of the National Coalition,” he explained.
“These days my colleague John Kerry has told me they will deal with this matter.”
“But there is no progress till now. Moreover, statements are being made to refuse to go to Geneva and to withdraw from the National Coalition, which, for its part, loses its position and its prestige.”
“The Syrian National Council and the groups, which represent its interests and carry on war on its land, give up cooperation with it.”
“We’ve heard reports saying these processes are being actively supported and financed by influential regional players that is why our warnings many obstacles will be created from those who come against any political process and who only seeks to use force against Syria in order to overthrow the regime are of high priority.”
A Russian Foreign Ministry statement expressed concern about opposition elements discussing Geneva II separately.
Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov said:
“We have always aspired when working on Syria to act as a consolidated platform and to avoid various unofficial – separate, to be precise – discussions.”
“The UN Security Council Resolution 2118 passed on September 27 namely calls for joint work.”
“The fact that the agenda of the meeting mentioned includes preparations for the international conference on Syria, raises questions.”
On Tuesday, Western and Arab countries will meet with opposition elements. They’ll do so in London.
British Foreign Secretary William Hague said participants will “discuss preparations for the Geneva Conference, support for the (opposition) Syrian National Coalition, and our efforts to achieve a political settlement to this tragic conflict.”
John Kerry will attend. He lied saying he’s “trying to move the (peace) process forward.”
“We’re working towards this Geneva conference, not that we know what the outcome is.”
Opposition elements plan holding separate discussions in Istanbul. Doing so indicates internal divisions.
Russia’s gone all out for peaceful conflict resolution. It’s done so since conflict began. Washington obstructs it. Nothing suggests policy change now.
Direct and indirect US funding, arming, training and directing insurgents continue. Doing so reveals America’s real intentions. They exclude peaceful conflict resolution. Obama didn’t wage war to end it.
Talks won’t change longstanding US regime change plans. Previous ones failed for that reason. Don’t expect this time to be different.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
His new book is titled “Banker Occupation: Waging Financial War on Humanity.”
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com.
Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.
It airs Fridays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.