Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Geneva II

The meeting of the international community and the parties to the Syrian conflict in Montreux, known as Geneva II, cannot be considered a success by any stretch of the imagination. But, in the end the two sides did meet face-to-face, although communicating through UN mediator Lakhdar Brahimi, and certain humanitarian agreements or gestures were arrived at. Relief for the Syrian populations in Homs and Aleppo were discussed in order to supply food and medicine and to allow women and children to leave the besieged areas. But, even these issues were not agreed to so far.

For the first two days each side, including the Americans and the Russians, gave vent to their frustrations and restated their positions. The Government of Bashar Assad agreed that a transitional gvernment can be establsihed, but it must include him. While the opposition agreed to a transitional government that must exclude him. One major problem is that the opposition represented is only the so-called moderate or secular opposition, who want a democratic Syria. A large portion of the oppositioon are Sunni extremists, Salafists or al Qaeda, who want an Islamist state, called ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria) to replace the current countries. Their fighters are indeed carrying out atrocities not only against the Assad government, but also against the secular opposition. So there is a three-way war for Syria going on, and the Islamists were not represented at Geneva II.

The Government of Bashar Assad is using its opportuntiy to lambast the "terrorists" on the opposition side. But, they lump the moderate opposition in with the Islamists for their own political reasons. The moderate opposition, even though they have endorsed the Geneva I proposal of a transitional government, still insist that Bashar Assad's regime cannot be represented in that body. So there is a political stalemate, while the war drags on. Neither side has enough strength to defeat the other, and neither side at present can be defeated, so there is in effect a military stalemate. How long this can go on for is unknown, but clearly the Russians and the Iranians are motivated to support their puppet Assad, while the support on the oppositon side is hardly equivalent. The US has withdrawn all military support in case weapons fall into the hands of the Islamists, and the Sunni Arab States, Qatar, Turkey and Saudi Arabia, are probably not as commited to their clients. From a western and Israeli perspective, we must stand aside until there is some resolution.


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