Geneva II conference is proposed by the United Nations after the successful completion of the Geneva talks. UN has announced Jan. 22 as the date for holding Geneva II — not an event but a process, to bring the Syrian warring factions to the table for the first time after the start of the three years old civil war. According to Ban Ki-moon speaking to the press from New York, “We go with a clear understanding: The Geneva conference is the vehicle for a peaceful transition that fulfills the legitimate aspirations of all the Syrian people for freedom and dignity, and which guarantees safety and protection to all communities in Syria.”
The civil war in Syria started in March 2011. After three years of this conflict, nearly 100,000 thousand people have died, an estimated 9 million are internally displaced while thousand languish behind bars.
Geneva II, is a continuation of the roadmap that was given by America, Russia and other powers to end the conflict in Syria. The two most important clauses of this proposed solution to the Syrian problem were the placing of a transitional government in Syria and the holding of elections. These measures were approved on June 2012 at Geneva, but it is to be noted that neither the Syrian government of Assad nor the opposition were represented at that conference.
This time round, it is hoped and is highly likely that representatives from both the opposing parties will take part in the Geneva II conference. There are certain obstacles that have to be removed before this conference can take place and bear a meaningful result as has been the case with the Geneva talks between Iran and the P5+1 powers.
It is true that the success of the recently concluded talks in Geneva leading to the signing of the Geneva accord by Iran is viewed as the main impetus behind the Geneva II conference, but this is also a reality that Iran is one of the major roadblock in convening of this proposed conference.
The main Syrian opposition group, the National Coalition does not want Iran to be a part of any deal between the government of Assad and the opposition. This is so because Iran has been actively supporting the Assad government, in cash and kind, against the opposition, therefore the Syrian opposition doesn’t want it to be a part of any negotiations. On the other end of the line it is also a fact that a deal without the participation of Iran would not amount to anything substantial as of today Iran is a major player and stakeholder in the region.
Any which way the things proceed, the Geneva II conference is specifically aimed at seeking a viable end to the Syrian conflict that has been a major cause of headache for the other countries in the region.
At the present moment there are high hopes that as a deal has been successfully struck with Iran ending a three decades old issue so will there be progress in the Syrian conflict which is only three years old.
All the parties involved consider the Geneva II conference to be the right step at a timely juncture in the history of Middle East. Further, the dream of lasting peace in the region depends on the first ever face-to-face contact between the Assad’s government and the Syrian opposition at Geneva II conference.
By: Iftikhar Tariq Khanzada
The Washington Post