Peace talks between the current government in Syria and its opposition ended today with no resolution and without setting a date to resume meeting. The meetings were in their second round. The UN supported talks began on January 24 of this year in Geneva, Switzerland. This is the first face to face contact President Bashar-al Assad has had with the opposition leaders.
Both parties came under a condition that the talks’ intention would be to create a more stable government and develop aid for Syrian civilians. The stated intention, however, has proven to be far from the actual outcome, with neither side willing to even approach a compromise.
The Syrian National Coalition (SNC) who leads the opposition refused the idea of a new government which would include Assad. Similarly, Assad expressed refusal to creating a transitional government which would include opposition leaders in its delegation. Assad’s backers, rather, insist that the point of the talks should have been to put an end to the “terrorism” of the opposition, and deliver Syria back into peace. The conclusion was confirmed by United Nations mediator Lakhdar Brahimi, who was disappointed by having no realistic resolution to the peace talks, and felt the need to apologize to the people of Syria.
“I apologize to the Syrian people,” he said, “we haven’t helped them much.”
The apology seems hollow in the dark reality currently experienced by the Syrian people. The 3-year civil war has killed 140,000 people, of which 7,000 were children, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said Saturday. The perceived waste of time, combined with the posturing of both sides, has left a large portion of the population frustrated and with little expectation of progress.
The war has also forced 2.5 million out of their homes into the neighboring countries of Turkey, Lebanon and Iraq. The Lebanese population has grown 20 percent in the last year due to Syrian refugees. After the official end of the talks, the United States and Russia came to the public defense of their allies. US Secretary of State, John Kerry, indicated that President Obama is revisiting the topic of US intervention in Syria.
In September, a deal crafted by Assad’s critical ally, Russia, required America to avert military action in Syria in exchange for Assad’s surrender of chemical weapons. Before the deal, accusations of chemical weaponry had been made against both Assad and the opposition.
Obama said in a statement on Feb. 11 that the United States still holds every right to intervene with its military, but that it is unlikely.
“Right now,” he said, “we don’t think that there’s a military solution, per se, to the problem.”
Rather, America is taking part in the support of a UN Security Council resolution that is pushing the Syrian government to provide support for Syrian civilians in need of emergency medical attention, and to allow those in conflict areas to flee. The resolution draft threatened economic and military sanctions if the provisions contained within the document are not implemented within 15 days.
Russian attitude toward the bill has introduced frustration at the UN Security Council. Since early 2011, Russia has vetoed resolutions that would aid the Syrian people. On Feb. 12, Russia rejected the document, saying it was unfit, according to an anonymous UN diplomat.
SNC official, Louay Safi said, “Negotiations have faltered. We have reached a point where we cannot move ahead.” The peace talks in Syria have effectively ended with no resolution, and none on the immediate horizon.
By Erin P. Friar