No solution in sight

February 13, 2014 - 7:24:39 am

The Syria talks in Geneva are getting embroiled in one-upmanship between the warring sides and support for Assad by Russia and China.

 

Amid faltering Geneva II talks, the Syrian imbroglio continues to worsen. The World Food Programme’s intervention in the humanitarian crisis in the city of Homs has seen thousands getting relief in the form of food and medicine. The residents of the city have been suffering the siege for months with Syrian troops cutting off access to the outside world and opposition fighters holed up inside the city—making it well nigh impossible for any outside help to reach the besieged people. 

The Geneva talks are an important milestone in the conflict that has endured the longest part of the Arab Spring. Calls for ouster of President Bashar Al Assad have been punctuated by demands by Russia and China —the regime’s biggest supporters — who have been trying hard to counter the effect of Western powers that want Assad to relinquish power.

Allowing aid to reach the rebel-held town of Homs was one of the key negotiating points when the talks started. Rebels demanded Assad’s troops let humanitarian assistance reach hundreds of families in the city.  Yesterday, a crucial day in the negotiations, the opposition laid out a transition plan for the war-ravaged country, including chasing out foreign fighters and a road to elections, but the regime refused to discuss it.

The opposition plan lays out the role of the so-called Transitional Governing Body (TGB), which the international community says is key to regime change in Syria.

The Syrian regime’s intransigence can be seen in the light of Russia and China’s unrelenting support for Assad. Damascus yesterday said that the talks should first focus on the issue of terrorism before any other subject could be discussed. 

At the start of the talks, a senior official close to Assad’s ruling clique had said that the people from the other side didn’t represent the opposition, and so talking to them was meaningless.

As evacuees from Homs left the besieged town yesterday, Syrian soldiers were overheard swearing at men and taking their photographs on their mobile phones. Gaunt and dazed children walking into relief camps presented a poignant story of a severe humanitarian crisis. 

Reconciliation seems to be a dirty word in the war-raveged country. The opposition plan for a transitional government has no mention of Bashar Al Assad. 

The continued intransigence of Russia and China points to a new front in the civil war. International mediator Lakhdar Brahimi has brought forward the meeting between Russia and US — the parties on opposing sides in the Civil War. To be held today, all eyes will be on the meeting that might present another dimension in the conflict.   The crisis in Syria, instead of showing signs of abating, seems to be getting worse. The ending of the siege of Homs notwithstanding, the Syrian people have a lot of sufferings to bear.

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