The on again, off again talks on Syria seem to be going nowhere. The Saudis and Americans want to include some terrorist groups whose presence is rejected by Syria, Russia and Iran. They argue, quite rightly, how can terrorists be allowed at the table to talk about peace. For now, the UN Special envoy for Syria says he hopes the talks would begin on Friday January 29. It is yet to be seen whether they will occur.
Tuesday January 26, 2016, 23:13 EST
Due to start on Monday January 25, talks between the Syrian government and opposition groups were postponed until Friday January 29. This was announced by the UN envoy for Syria, Staffan de Mistura. He said they will last for six months with the first round going on for two weeks.
One of the main stumbling blocks to the start of talks in Geneva has been who from the opposition will be invited to participate. The US and Saudi Arabia want two terrorist groups, Jaysh al Islam and Ahrar al Shamto be included. Russia, Syria and Iran are opposed to their presence saying how can terrorists be allowed to sit and talk about peace?
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and his American counterpart John Kerry met on January 22 to discuss the issue of participants but did not arrive at a firm conclusion.
There is another caveat as well. Turkey is opposed to the presence of the Kurdish armed group, Yekîneyên Parastina Gael (YPG) that represents the Democratic Union Party. Turkey fears that YPG’s presence will undermine its position because Ankara has come under strong criticism for its mistreatment of Kurds in his country.
The YPG is based in Syria but their presence will strengthen the Kurds’ position that Turkish President Recept Tayip Erdogan is trying to undermine.
With so many groups being proposed and their presence challenged at the talks, is it realistic to assume that talks would be held as planned?
The opposition groups are so hopelessly divided that they cannot even sit in the same room to talk to each other. Those that will be chosen to attend will be there because of the principal instigator of all the mayhem, the Najdi Bedouins. This makes the prospects of talks so uncertain.
It needs recalling that it was the Jaysh al Islam terrorist group that was responsible for the Sarin gas attack in Ghouta in August 2013. Initially it was blamed on the Syrian government but a British lab analysed the samples and discovered that the Syrian army did not possess such chemicals. The chemical weapons were supplied by Turkey to the terrorists and paid for by Saudi Arabia in an attempt to get the US to attack Syria.
Whether the Geneva talks are held or not may ultimately prove to be largely irrelevant. Real action is taking place on the ground where the Syrian army and National Defence Force militia are making great progress against the takfiri terrorists since the Russian bombing campaign was launched on September 30, 2015. Syria has regain strategic ground in Latakia and Aleppo provinces cleansing the terrorists of many of their strongholds.
Russia has made significant progress against the terrorists in four months what the US and its 60 allies could not achieve in nearly 18 months. This should indicate how serious the US and its allies were in degrading the takfiri terrorists.
For now, nobody is waiting with any anticipation for the Geneva talks, if and when they are held, to produce any results. Staffan de Mistura even said the talks would not be held directly but that mediators would shuttle back and forth between Syrian government representatives and the motley collected of opposition groups.