Argue about the participants of the Geneva talks on Syria

Argue about the participants of the Geneva talks on Syria

The fourth round of Geneva negotiations for a peaceful settlement of the Syrian conflict under the UN auspices started on 23 Feb. Friday, 24 February, UN special envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura gave the delegations of the opposition and the Syrian government a working document with proposals for the procedure of negotiation. In accordance with this plan the main topics of negotiations must be the training of the Syrian Constitution, the formation of a transitional government and elections.

The delegation of official Damascus is headed by Syria’s permanent representative to the UN Bashar ja’afari. Opposition to negotiations to form a unified delegation failed, despite calls from de Mistura. Each of the three main Syrian opposition platforms, “Cairo”, “Moscow” and the Higher Committee on negotiations (WCP), based in Riyadh, came to Geneva in separate groups. The largest delegation of the CPSU. In the negotiations also involved a representative of the armed opposition, Muhammad Alloush, the head of the group “Jaish al-Islam”. At the negotiations and was not invited the representatives of the negotiating group “Hamim” and “Astana” platform. The Russian delegation together with Deputy Minister of foreign Affairs Gennady Gatilov arrived in Geneva on February 27.

Approval proposed by de Mistura of the work plan is carried out in the course of bilateral meetings of UN officials with representatives of the General delegations. The delegation of the Syrian government rejects direct talks with the opposition as long as they’re not formed a unified delegation. Hold consultations between them and representatives of opposition groups, said a participant in the negotiations, the representative of the “Moscow” of the platform and the party leader “the popular front for change and liberation” Qadri Jamil. According to him, “Moscow” platform is ready to support the formation of a unified opposition delegation but provide equal representation for all platforms. “We oppose the absolute majority of the representatives of the CPSU into a single delegation on other issues, you will be able to negotiate,” — said Jamil .

According to Jamil, this round of Geneva negotiations should be completed between 3 March and will be devoted to the coordination of the working schedule and format of future meetings, which will be discussed declared by the special envoy of the UN main topics. Among the proposals the de Mistura — the prospective establishment of ad hoc working groups for each of the three stated directions. Negotiations can take several months, the next round, according to preliminary data, could be held in late March, said Jamil.

The resumption of the political process on Syria became possible after the agreement on a ceasefire between the Syrian government and the armed opposition at the end of December last year. Ahead of the meeting in Geneva was twice held consultations with the warring parties to a new negotiating site in Kazakhstan Astana under the auspices of Russia, Turkey and Iran, who acted as the guarantors of the truce.

Photo: Pool / Reuters

Without scandals and breakthroughs

The opposition believes that the discussion and approval of details of the formation of a transitional government in Syria should be the priority of Geneva talks. Do not agree with the representative of Damascus Jaafari. According to him, the main point should be to combat terrorism, especially after the terrorist attacks involving suicide that took place in HOMS on 23 February. The attack killed more than 40 people.

Ja’afari called on the opposition to condemn the attacks, threatening to recognize those who refuse, supporters of terrorists. The representative of the CPSU Wael Alwan said that the atmosphere at the talks in General does not raise optimism, accusing the delegation of the Syrian government of deliberately delaying the negotiation process. According to Alwan, the Syrian authorities insist that the fight against terrorism became the main agenda of the upcoming Geneva talks, avoiding discussion of the political transition in the country, reports channel Al Jazeera.

Assess the go at the moment the Geneva talks, is premature, said the scientific Director of the Institute of Oriental studies Vitaly Naumkin, speaking on February 27 in Moscow at the conference on the Middle East, organized by the International discussion club “Valdai”. According to Naumkin, the negotiations in Geneva is an important step towards a peaceful settlement, but you should not have excessive illusions about the achievement of a solution to resolve the conflict in Syria in this round, as between the opposing sides there are deep contradictions.

The talks in Geneva to find the solution for three major issues of the future device Syria: under the new Constitution, early elections and a transitional government, says senior lecturer at the HSE Leonid Isaev. However, he notes, the parties ‘ positions are so different that the only area where there is a theoretical chance to come to an agreement, is the writing of a new Constitution. In his opinion, the parties first is to approve the basic principles of the Constitution, a sort of Declaration, and then proceed to nation-building. “The Geneva format is in principle a very long and complex process of consultations and approvals. Therefore some results to bring still early,” — said Isayev.

Consequences airstrike in the town of Ariha, Idlib province, Syria. 25 Feb 2017

Photo: Ammar Abdullah / Reuters

Reports from the front

While delegations in Geneva will agree on a procedure for negotiation in Syria, the ongoing government operation against the terrorists banned in Russia, ISIS and operation of Turkey in Northern Syria against ISIL and Kurdish groups. February 23, the Turkish military has occupied the city of al-Bab in Northern Syria. Speaking in Moscow on Monday, Advisor to the Turkish President Ilnur Cevik, said that the military operation in Ankara “Shield of the Euphrates” will continue until the capture of the city Manuja, which is now controlled by Kurdish forces SDF. Earlier, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan promised that Ankara also Manuja planning and the liberation of Raqqa, which is located 150 km from the present position of the Turkish army. But on Monday the Syrian government army has blocked Turkish troops the road to Raqqa, taking a small settlement East of El-Baba.

The Pro-Kurdish SDF troops continue their offensive in the area of Raqqa, in cooperation with the Syrian opposition, they advanced close to the bed of the Euphrates, halfway between Raqqa and Deir-ez-Zor, where the government army and surrounded by ISIS militants. As stated on Monday, one of the commanders of the SDF Jihan Ahmad, a raqqa and Deir-ez-Zor is now “almost isolated from each other.”

Raqqa and Deir-ez-Zor are the last strongholds of ISIS in the Syrian part of the Euphrates valley. In addition to them, beyond the valley, the Islamists are still in control of Palmyra. However, last week the government army once again came to the city, and on Sunday took a strategic height Khayal a few kilometers from the city. “In good standing Palmyra can and should take before, — said Isayev. — But this time, apparently, decided to play it safe, to wait and to prepare even better — following the release of Palmyra once again not to lose it”. The capture of Palmyra, according to Isaev, can now be a matter of days.