| by Victor Cherubim
( January 22, 2014, London, Sri Lanka Guardian) The final ending of the message to the delegate diplomats from around the world at Geneva 2 talks in Montreux, Switzerland on Wednesday 22 January 2014 by Ahmad Jarba, President of Syria’s Opposition Coalition, sum up in three words, the mood of international relations today.
Negotiating peace in Syria has never been an easy task, as Syrian Government and Opposition have since March 2011 traded bitter accusations against each other, as 10,000 or more children have perished, with the United Nations only able to look on.
No one is expecting a breakthrough as the UN has struggled to bring the myriad factions together to the conference table.
“The country’s bitter war began as a peaceful protest in March 2011 by graffiti artists on the streets of Damascus, has so far according to reports killed more than 100,000 people and created as many as 8 million refugees displaced both within and outside neighbouring Syrian borders.”
Syria’s Walid Muallen, the Foreign Minister among others in the government are strongly opposed to a settlement based on the departure of President Bashir al-Assad from office, as demanded by the growing factions within the opposition.
What has up to now been achieved?
For the first time in decades, the Security Council Big 5 Members are all agreed that the war in Syria is a humanitarian problem. The International community has after Geneva 1, come with one voice, that” enough is enough”. The problem of Geneva 1 was the issue of a Transitional Government. President Assad as argued, could not be part of a transitional government. Syria was not going to be silenced, whilst the Gulf monarchies were funding the rebels.
Building on Geneva 1, the world at last accepted that torpedoing what has been achieved so far cannot be part of Geneva 2. The objective was twofold:
1. Syria must be a united country.
2. There should not be any interference in the boundaries of Syria by any country or by anyone outside its borders.
The Western backed Syrian National Coalition (SNC) with the Syrian National Council, accepted to attend, but is divided and only represents a fraction of the Anti-Assad opposition. The main absentees are the Sunni militants, who control wide areas of Syrian territory. The Kurdish faction in the northwest of Syria was not invited by the UN. Besides, Iran was invited and later rescinded by the UN Secretary General, to accommodate the SNC. It is a well known fact that Iran is a very important partner in any negotiations, but it is equally wide knowledge that Islamic Republic is a responsible member today in the settlement of the Syrian Question, to accommodate.
The lessons learned by the UN
The international community including the Big 5, Russia, China, United States, France and Britain in September 2013, pragmatically came out with one voice that war was not the only way of settlement of disputes, as per the Charter of the UN.
That the use of the veto in the Security Council was a weapon which could no longer be used for political ends.
That the destruction of Syria’s chemical weapons in exchange for keeping Assad in power was the first step. That man’s inhumanity to man cannot be accepted, nor must it be condoned under any circumstances and left to the vagaries of time and circumstance to take its course.
Steps must be taken piecemeal to intervene by the UN on humanitarian grounds, but simultaneously no one from outside the country’s borders has a right to say who is legitimate or not.
“Although the US and its European allies have in part already recognised the Assad’slegitimacy,” step by step through a democratic process, change will have to come in Syria as Western powers put pressure on Turkey and Saudi Arabia to cut back financial assistance to the rebels”.
All what Geneva 2 could accomplish is de-escalate the violence. As violence decreases, the the death toll will decrease, humanitarian aid will be able to provide relief on the ground. In the end these small steps we hope, will pave the way for Assad to move from the scene. as the Sunni terrorists on the one side and the Shia terrorists on the other, accept that their game is over. Injustice will be controlled and commonsense and democracy will prevail.