Any hopes for peace at Geneva IV?

Ruthanne Sikora 2017-02-16 10:51:00

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This next round of Geneva talks will be held in one week from now and many things have changed since the previous round. There was no hope for any political solution in the third round of Geneva.

The last Astana round was useful in setting the priorities to be discussed in Geneva. The Astana meeting will serve as a back-up tool for the Geneva negotiations where maintaining a ceasefire is once again on the priority list.

Even as the international community was supporting separate opposition groups, the US presidential elections resulted in a new administration under Donald Trump; the result of that was a change on the ground in Syria that opened up new pathways for negotiations since US support for some opposition groups has been stopped.  

Iran still has more influence on Assad than anyone else. Iran is not interested in toppling Assad, but rather in finding guarantee for its influence on Syria. 

There is no guarantee for good results from Geneva IV but some members of the Syrian opposition are optimistic and will be attending with more enthusiasm and hope than any other time in the past. 

Syrians are fed-up with the status quo and are experiencing more than enough stress and tension. They are looking towards the future with hope and optimism as many of them want to return to the ruins of their past in Syria and begin restoring and rebuilding their country with their own hands. 

Hope and peace have the chance to be nurtured again that was denied the Syrian people during too many years of bloodshed and mortalities.

The Syrian opposition’s High Negotiations Committee (HNC) said earlier that it was seeking an end to the bombing of civilians and assurance that medical aid will reach civilians in besieged areas before attending Geneva IV where the top priorities of the talks continue to be a legitimate ceasefire and deliveries of humanitarian aid to suffering Syrians.

A peaceful settlement is the ultimate goal of the negotiations which would necessarily include a transitional period ending with elections in line with a UN Security Council resolution approved last January.

A recently released HNC statement listed the names of 21 members of the negotiation delegation who were chosen from various military and civilian components. The statement also refers to an advisory delegation consisting of 20 members of specialists in political, legal and military affairs that will be available to assist in the negotiations. 

The statement pointed out that the “Assad regime exploits initiatives and international efforts to gain time and continues to violate the basic rights of the Syrian people” stressing that “seriousness of negotiations is a must to build trust through commitment to the truce, and implementation of items 12, 13 and 14 of the UN Resolution 2254 which provides protection of civilians, release of detainees, breaking the siege, and to allow humanitarian aid.”

The participants confirmed their adherence to the integrity of Syrian territory and the need to preserve state institutions since they are the property of the Syrian people; assuring that the goal of negotiations is to achieve a political transition under UN provision and rejecting any foreign interference that presumes to present a constitution or documents on behalf of the Syrian people in terms of their vision for Syria’s future. They are also demanding the departure of all foreign forces, militias and mercenary groups. 

HNC members also reaffirmed their commitment to standing strong against terrorism in all its forms.

We can only hope that the other parties involved in the Geneva IV negotiations will also be attending with a like-minded commitment to making some real progress in the next round of negotiations and that they will not allow the Assad regime to continue the stonewalling tactics that have repeatedly been successful in thwarting all previous efforts to come up with a peaceful solution to the devastating violence in Syria.

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