Thursday, February 23, 2017

Geneva IV Peace Talks on Syria Begin

Geneva IV Peace Talks on Syria Begin

by Stephen Lendman

Three previous rounds failed because Washington undermined them. Will this time be different?

Pro-Western UN envoy to Syria Staffan de Mistura said he’s “not expecting a breakthrough” - not a good sign as new peace talks begin after six years of devastating war, launched by Obama for regime change.

Nor was opposition delegation spokesman Salem al-Muslet encouraging, saying Syrian representatives aren’t “here to negotiate about a political transition, but they're here to buy time and commit more crimes…There's no trust” in Damascus.

According to opposition Syrian National Coalition head Anas al-Abdah “(w)e cannot address the profound security threats…while Assad remains in power.”

Opposition High Negotiations Committee representative Munzar Mahus wants “transition of power (regime change)” discussed “first and foremost,” calling what’s off the table except for open, free and fair elections “the main issue.”

UN Secretary-General Antonio Gutteres struck an added note of pessimism, saying “(p)eace is only possible when none of the parties to the conflict think they can win. I’m not sure we are yet there.”

Geneva talks will focus on political issues, de Mistura believes for two weeks - guided by Security Council Resolution 2254, calling for ceasefire and diplomatic conflict resolution. 

More rounds of Astana, Kazakhstan talks will deal with cessation of hostilities and related humanitarian issues. How Geneva discussions will proceed is unclear - whether face-to-face or both sides in separate rooms, UN officials shuttling between them.

One or more low-level US representatives are in Geneva as observers, another negative sign. De Mistura downplayed it, saying the “new administration requires some time before devising a new strategy.”

Does Trump intend combating ISIS (and by inference other terrorist groups) as promised or will US support continue? Pentagon warplanes continue bombing Syrian infrastructure, massacring civilians at the same time. 

Reports suggest unknown numbers of US combat troops may be deployed to northern Syria, besides hundreds of special forces already there - operating illegally.

Trump wants so-called safe zones established. Damascus opposes them. So does Russia without Assad’s permission. 

Resolving Syria’s conflict depends on Trump. His actions so far suggest support for continued war, not resolving it diplomatically.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. 

His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: How the US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."

http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanIII.html

Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. 


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