Geneva-II: Long on rhetoric, short on substance

Developing Just Leadership

Crescent International

Rabi' al-Awwal 21, 1435 2014-01-22

Daily News Analysis

by Crescent International

Few informed observers expect anything of substance to emerge from the Geneva-II talks currently underway in Switzerland. The only hopeful sign is that at least some Syrian opposition groups are sitting across the table talking to Syrian government representatives even if they have been cajoled into coming there by their foreign masters. Will it lead to a solution? There is little hope at present unless there is a change of mind.

Geneva,

Wednesday January 22, 2014, 06:00 EST

Even with the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, the UN-Arab League Special envoy Lakhdar Brahimi, 40 foreign ministers including Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Muallem and the opposition, the Syrian National Coalition present at Montreaux, Switzerland, there was more rhetoric than substance at the one-day conference on Syria today.

Both Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Syrian FM Muallem rejected US Secretary of State John Kerry’s call for President Bashar al-Asad to step aside for he had no role in Syria’s future or even a transitional government. Lavrov made clear that no progress would be made if participants came with pre-conditions.

Muallem was more blunt. He called the call for the removal of Asad from the presidency a “red line” and said any political solution must be Syrian-led and that it must be arrived at inside Syria. This was a pointed rejection of Kerry’s demand for Asad to go. He also warned th participants, especially Western governments about the dangers of terrorism reminding them of the 911 attacks.

In typical style, the US is misinterpreting the Geneva-I deal by claiming that it calls for Asad’s removal. There is no such provision in that agreement. It simply calls for a mutually agreed arrangement for the transitional government between the various contending parties. It is silent about Asad’s future. And since the Syrian government is part of the negotiating process, there is no question that Asad would go.

The Syrian opposition spokesman, Ahmed Jarba looked distinctly out of place as he laboriously went through his long-winded speech making the same points that have got the Syrian people nowhere. The tragedy of Syria is that those that claim to speak on their behalf are not their own masters.

They are being dictated to by external players—Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Turkey, the US, Britain and France, etc. Jarba looked uncomfortable reading from a prepared text. One can sympathize with him because he has to contend with numerous masters: Western, Arabian, Turkish and even the Syrian terrorist groups that have rejected any talks at Geneva or elsewhere.

The big question is, even if an agreement were arrived at, how would the opposition implement it? If the Saudi-backed thugs refuse to abide by its terms, does the Syrian National Coalition, an odd assortment of opportunists living a luxuriously lifestyle in five-star hotels, have the power to enforce it? This is what Syrian government spokesmen have repeatedly asked but have got no answer.

There is, however, a proposal on the table that says power would be shared three ways: one-third for the current Syrian government, one-third for the opposition and the final third for independents. The question of implementation would again be a sticking point.

By agreeing to participate in Geneva-II, the West has been forced to admit that there is no military solution to the crisis in Syria and that the groups they are backing, whether political or military, do not have the capability to overthrow the government of Bashar al-Asad by force of arms.

Meanwhile, in an interview with the French news agency, Agence France Press, Asad said he would be a candidate in the forthcoming presidential elections. He also said if the people of Syria did not want him to rule, he would step aside.

As the various players go through the motions in Geneva, it is becoming clear that there will be no solution as long as foreign governments continue to send weapons and mercenaries into Syria to create mayhem and chaos.

Syria is only one of many problems the Saudis have created in the Ummah.

In Geneva, the participants should perhaps concentrate on finding ways to punish the wicked Saudi regime that is at the root of most of the troubles in the Muslim world, from terrorism to distortion to Islam’s message.

Syria is only one of many problems the Saudis have created in the Ummah.

END

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