In a show of good faith, Bashar al-Assad’s government has offered to rebel fighters a “zero-hour ceasefire” in the city of Aleppo, but Syria’s rebels aren’t buying it. The move comes days before an international peace conference is set to be held in Switzerland, with its objective to bring an end to Syria’s nearly three year long civil war.
The Syrian government offered to exchange detainee lists, hoping to promote the idea of a prisoner exchange in return for a ceasefire. Still, rebels aren’t buying the offer.
A number of rebel groups have scoffed at the proposition for a ceasefire, saying that talks in Geneva will accomplish little to nothing as long as Bashar al-Assad is still in power. Meanwhile Syria’s government under Bashar al-Assad says that the focus of the conference should be on fighting “terrorism,” something observers say is a sign Assad’s government isn’t willing to compromise on internal dissent.
There is a growing pan-regional militant uprising in the region, with groups closely linked to al-Qaeda swooping into surrounding countries, seeking to sow unrest in the fragile governments of places like Iraq and Lebanon. The concern has been heeded by international security forces, who have supplied governments under siege with resources and manpower to battle back against roving gangs of Islamic militants.
The 120-member coalition that represents that 90-95 different groups that comprise Syria’s opposition couldn’t come to a consensus, with 44 of the members refusing to attend the Geneva conference. The common question Syria’s rebel factions are asking is “why go?” according to coalition spokesman Khaled Saleh.
The three year long conflict, which has claimed the lives of over 120,000 people, has officials scrambling to get the warring parties at the table, something that seems unlikely considering the atmosphere of mistrust. And despite insistence from Western leaders that the rebels come to the table, the Western-backed coalition does not represent a majority of those rebel forces, many of which have direct ties to extremist groups like al-Qaeda. So all in all, it seems as though trust has been lost on almost every party involved.
Secretary of State John Kerry went on the record to say that Assad has manipulated the perspective of what’s going on in the country, painting the rebels as terrorists. “He’s been doing this for months,” said Kerry.
Meanwhile Kerry and his aides have talked about “localized ceasefires” to allow humanitarian efforts into severely battered regions, where access to clean water and medical supplies is limited.
All attempts to broker a ceasefire in Syria have had no success, and rebels claim the move comes to impose “surrender on rebel areas.”
Meanwhile Russia, one of Syria’s last allies, has made a statement saying that the two countries have “identical” views on making the second peace conference in Geneva a success. Syrian and Russian officials have been quoted as saying that they want the Geneva conference “to ensure a political solution.”
The Syrian crisis has only gotten messier as time has gone on, following various disheartening events, such as chemical weapons attacks, barrel bombings, and violent public executions. Analysts say that the bad blood that has been sown between the warring factions might need more than just a conference to reconcile.
by John Amaruso