Shaky Run-up to Syrian Peace Talks
by Stephen Lendman
Talks are scheduled to begin Friday at Geneva’s Palais des Nations. It’s still unclear precisely who’s coming - what parties and individuals got invitations, which ones accepted or rejected them.
From what’s known so far, US/UK/Saudi-backed terrorist groups were invited - a bloc known as the Higher Negotiating Committee, including ISIS-equivalent Jaish al-Islam (Army of Islam).
It’s committed to Syria’s destruction, mass slaughter of Shiites and Alawites - former leader Zahran Alloush (killed by Syrian airstrikes) earlier saying “(o)ur nation has a great thirst for an Islamic state.”
He and his followers reject democracy, international law, and pluralistic governance. Not yet named similar terrorist groups were invited. Anti-Assad moderates don’t exist.
Media reports indicated Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem will attend, along with UN envoy Bashar al-Jafari as government moderator.
Syrian political defector Riyad Hijab heads the Saudi-backed Higher Negotiating Committee. Syrian army defector Asaad al-Zoubi heads other opposition groups - both men committed to Assad’s removal by any means.
Arab media indicated de Mistura invited 15 delegates from each side. Various other groups and individuals got invitations.
The PYD (Democratic Union Party) was excluded, Syria’s largest Kurdish group, despite the importance of its inclusion. Turkey demanded its exclusion, falsely calling it a terrorist organization, part of its longstanding war on Kurds, currently raging.
PYD fighters are some of the most effective in combating ISIS and other terrorist groups. Excluding the group denigrates its commitment against a common scourge.
Veteran Syrian opposition figure Haitham Manna said he’ll boycott talks without the PYD’s inclusion. The Swiss government invited its leader Saleh Muslim to serve as an advisor to the talks - meaningless if he’s excluded from proceedings.
Months of proximity talks are planned. Opposing sides won’t meet face-to-face. Anti-Assad, Western-controlled UN negotiators will mediate proceedings, biased before beginning.
On the eve of talks, bickering on who should or shouldn’t attend continues, some groups (including Saudi-backed ones) threatening to boycott proceedings if their conditions aren’t met.
Talks are supposed to take place with no pre-conditions, beyond what Security Council Res. 2254 stipulates:
- initiating a political process toward establishing “inclusive and non-sectarian governance” within six months by Syrians alone, free from outside interference;
- drafting a new constitution, likely largely replicating the current one, overwhelmingly approved by national referendum in February 2012; and
- holding new elections in 18 months.
Assad is overwhelmingly popular, reelected in June 2014 with an 89% majority - a process independent international observers called open, free and fair.
He won’t be removed from office electorally, why Washington and rogue partners plan endless war. Expect Geneva III to fare no better than previous talks.
How can it with US-led opposition to Assad’s rule committed to ousting him militarily. The evidence speaks for itself.
ISIS, Al Qaeda and Jabhat al-Nusra weren’t invited to Geneva. They’re US foot soldiers committed to conflict to achieve their objectives - with full support and encouragement from Washington, including Pentagon warplanes bombing infrastructure and government targets, as well as increasing numbers of US combat troops heading for northern Syria.
On Wednesday, State Department spokesman Mark Toner lied, saying:
“We believe (opposition elements) should seize this opportunity to test the regime's willingness and intentions and expose before the entire world which parties are serious about a potential peaceful political transition in Syria and which are not.”
He failed to explain Washington intends endless war, attempting to oust Assad militarily, so far Russia’s aerial campaign defeating its imperial objectives.
On Wednesday, Sergey Lavrov warned about talks threatened by “irrelevant conditions,” ignoring the need for unity against terrorism.
He defended Russia’s aerial campaign, saying it’s “clear who is fighting the terrorists, who are acting as their accomplices, and who are trying to use them for their unilateral, selfish goals” - indicating Washington, Britain, France, Gulf States and complicit allies without naming them.
Lavrov fears unacceptable opposition-imposed conditions may doom talks, maybe before beginning.
It bears repeating. Expect Geneva III to fare no better than earlier talks. Washington’s imperial agenda likely dooms them.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com.
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