10.01.2014 Author: Alexander Orlov

«Geneva – 2» – Another Misfire?

404920-topshots-syria-conflictNow there’s little doubt that an international conference that could provide the so much needed aid in the settlement of the Syrian conflict , the so-called “Geneva -2” , which was supposed to open in Montreux , Switzerland on January 22 , is not going to open yet again. The reason for this sad fact stays the same – the unwillingness and inability of the Syrian opposition abroad ( Syrian authorities are not going to hold negotiations with terrorists and radical groups that fight in Syria) to sit at the table with the official Damascus delegation without putting forward some unacceptable conditions, like the condition that Assad should step down before any negotiations could even start. The attempts of this opposition to ensure that a number of seats in the future Syrian interim government will be occupied by its representatives look equally ridiculous, since they have already decided that there will be no representatives of the legitimate Syrian government in this “mythical” government to come. After all, in today’s situation, when the Syrian army firmly holds the situation in its hands, whereas militant groups are often fighting each other, it seems totally unreasonable to try force-feed the Syrian authorities with any rules of the game.

It is now clear that no opposition, should it be secular liberals , traitors and deserters , moderate Islamists , Islamist radicals , extremists or terrorists, even if all these are to gather together under the same banner, is able to overthrow the regime of Bashar al-Assad . The civil war in Syria continues today only due to the generous funding provided by Saudi Arabia, a number of Arab monarchies of the Persian Gulf , various Islamic financial funds that are known for their dubious reputation, and the support provided by Turkey, the U.S. and some EU countries , would long ago be over by now. This would have been an utter and complete victory of forces loyal to Damascus . This would have put an end to the history of the ” Arab revolutions” that destroyed such countries like Egypt and Libya , the Wahhabi hydra would have been stopped by the unfearing resistance of the Syrian people.

So all these empty talks about the inability of the West and its Wahhabi partners to force the opposition into participating in the “Geneva -2” conference don’t look good, and if we are to call things by their proper names – it’s a dirty lie. Indeed, even before the onset of the new year there were cases of temporary cease fire agreements between the government forces and local militants, since the latter have finally realized that there’s no sense in further struggle . But as soon as this process of “capitulation” become known, the U.S. and Saudi Arabia started to cut off the channels of financial support to the parties that are in command of these groups of militants. There’s only one question then – why Washington keeps talking about a peaceful settlement and sends its diplomats to the talks with their Russian colleagues to negotiate the grounds of ” Geneva -2″ , but at the same time tries to prolong the conflict? Is this yet another case of conspiracies and double games ? But in this case there is no reason for Moscow to participate in these diplomatic games even further. It’s high time Russia puts forward the demand a clear deadline of the conference. And if it is not going to place again , then let the Syrian army bring the matter to its logical end and destroy those who want no peace .

742600It’s no coincidence that the Syrian Minister of Information Omran al-Zoubi has recently stated that Damascus is interested in participating in the forthcoming international conference ” Geneva -2 “, if this conference would allow to resolve the crisis in a manner that corresponds with the aspirations of the Syrian people . At a press conference held in the Syrian capital, he was explicitly clear at calling all the armed groups operating at the Syrian soil “terrorist”, no matter how they are labeled. ” All attempts to portray these groups as “moderate” are doomed to failure and will not mislead the Syrian people ,” – said the Minister. According to Omran al-Zoubi the Syrian delegation is going to the conference ” Geneva -2 ” to achieve results that will serve the interests of the state and its people. “We will not allow the United States, Saudi Arabia and Turkey to impose their agenda , – he said. – We understand that there will be a larger number of groups represented in the Syrian government some day, but we wouldn’t allow an interim government that would resemble the Iraqi interim government after the American invasion.” He reaffirmed the members of the press that any agreement that is to be reached in Geneva, will be handed over for referendum . If this agreement is going to fail in gaining the majority of votes it would have no binding power, since it will meaningless otherwise. Omran al-Zoubi also urged the Turkish government to completely close the Turkish borders for terrorists and expel every and single one of them from the country . In addition, he requested Jordan to strengthen control over its borders, and not to succumb to the external pressures, especially the one coming from Saudi Arabia. In conclusion, he said that those who believe that they can change anything in Syria by sending even more terrorists and weapons there are totally mistaken .

Meanwhile, foreign Syrian opposition held another meeting in a luxurious hotel in Istanbul, they were trying to agree on whether it’s to early to call it quits, and if it’s not what should be terms of their “capitulation”. There were no journalists or guests present at the meetings of the General Assembly of the National Coalition, even the cell phones were blocked in the hotel for the duration of the even. On January 5, 2014 “delegates” reelected the president Sheikh Ahmed al- Jarboe. When he learned that he stays he announced that the Coalition “is not ready to go to Geneva .” As was explained by the vice-president of the Coalition Tayfur Farouq ” will try to delay the Geneva-2 peace conference until the conditions for its assembly won’t be more favorable” The most influential of all groups in exile – the Syrian National Council refused to send its representatives to Switzerland since they believe there’s no «necessary guarantees» that the Syrian President Bashar al-Assad will step down after “Geneva -2”.

At the same time the National Coalition seems to be splitting in two as more than 40 members announced that they are leaving the NC. The breaking point is question should the National Coalition participate in the forthcoming conference ” Geneva -2 .” Leave the coalition decided to just six blocks , as well as some independent members . The groups and the individual members that have left the coalition promised to create their own “political shield ” that will protect the interests of the Syrian people. The NC has also failed in deciding the fate of the interim government. For this reason the final say on the participation has been delayed for January 17. Opposition members believe that the initiators of the conference , primarily Russia and the U.S. haven’t provided them with “sufficient guarantees that would allow the achievement of a positive result”. According to them, that the participants of the conference should create an interim authority, which will be brought to power in Syria, as for the Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, according to the NC, his political life should end on the day the interim authority comes to power.

Meanwhile the NC has already received an official invitation from the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to take part in a conference in Montreux on January 22. It turns out that that final decision on the participation issue of the largest association of all opposition groups in Syria will be known only five days before the start of “Geneva-2” . So – now a bunch of doubtful organizations that are funded from abroad will be dictating its will to the international community through the United Nations? Where is the United States that is believed to be the leading Western country that is in charge of dealing with all the anti-Assad forces?

The list of participants was defined long ago, on December 20 2013 at the meeting of the Russian, US and UN. After this meeting Ban Ki-moon sent out the invitations to 30 countries that are to take part in the “Geneva -2 ” conference. But guess what – the Iran is not on the list, but the question is why? Yes, because Iran’s involvement is allegedly unacceptable to some members of the National Coalition. So Washington is blindly following the demands of the groups it is supporting? One could hardly believe in such a nonsense.

At the request of the UN Secretary General, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry will meet on January 13 to discuss the issues related to the preparations of the international conference on Syria, “the Geneva- 2″. ” The United Nations hoped that Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and his US counterpart John Kerry will reach a result, during their imminent consultation, about the possibility of Iran’s participation in the international conference on Syria” – said the UN Secretary General .  ” Russia and the US will hold talks on the issue since they are the states which called for holding the conference,” added the United Nations Secretary General’s Spokesperson Martin Nesirky.

On top of all the NC representatives, according to a number of media sources, are going to visit Moscow on January 15-16.

Meanwhile , the bloodshed in Syria continues. The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant on January 6 executed executed 50 prisoners in Aleppo. Among the victims one can notice journalists, humanitarian workers and civilians. This group has issued a statement in which it threatens to destroy the Syrian National Coaltion Of Syrian Revolution and Opposition Forces along with the Syrian Free Army. So how could one talk about the peace on the shores of Lake Geneva, when the war in Syria rages on?

Alexander Orlov, political scientist and expert orientalist, exclusively for the New Eastern Outlook online magazine.