28.01.2014 Author: Yuriy Zinin

SYRIA : Walking on Thin Ice

image15483733_214223235fe1494dd250a540b8f462e7An absolute majority of media outlets have headlined the fact that the members of Syrian opposition have been discussing matters with the legitimate representatives of the Syrian people “in the same room” during the Geneva – 2 talks. Journalists perceived this fact as a milestone in the process of peaceful settlement.

But the fact that Geneva-2 is taking place in the first place is a milestone of its own, it means that politicians have finally understood that there’s no stopping the conflict with brute force. Yet there’s no easy way out of the conflict after three years of bloodshed. The negotiations remind of walking on thin ice, when a wrong step, say nothing about provocations, that may have devastating consequences.

In this regard a report on “systematic killings and torture” that are attributed to the Assad regime that appeared days before the conference, may turn out to be a deal breaker. Yet the credibility of this report, prepared with Qatar’s assistance, arouses serious question. It was thrown in the eve of a conference that took months of diplomatic and political efforts to prepare.

The road to Geneva, where the initiative of the Russian Federation and the United States were to be turned into reality, was a bumpy one. A handful of political parties and forces, especially the ones that rallied under the banner of radical Islam, were standing in the way of “Geneva-2”. Those forces named the fact that Syrian opposition sent its representatives to Geneva, as a betrayal.

Since the beginning of 2014 an Islamist group “Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant” affiliated with “Al-Qaeda” has intensified its operations against other opposition groups in Syria. According to some experts, over this short period of time they’ve managed to kill more than 1,300 people of their “brother fighters”. It’s no wonder that people in Syria are starting to call these regular skirmishes a “sub-civil war”, which has recently forced the head of al-Qaeda Ayman al-Zawahiri to reportedly address all “jihadis and brothers in Islam” urging them to stop fighting each other.

In such circumstances, the report that had been published before the conference of the above plays into the hands of the most radical Islamists of the m al. Syria has become a regional problem, which somehow touches upon a number of neighboring states, and the Syrian underground extremists increasingly penetrate into Iraq to sow death here.

This position was defended by a number of Arab experts that participated in a TV round table assembled by an Iraqi channel “Al- Iraqiya” in which I was invited to participate in.

At the round table my Arab colleagues have managed to discuss the prolonged crisis in Syria, on the field which is often a settling of scores of regional forces. Picture remains mobile, overflow occurs militants from one to the other.

At the same time, all experts seem to agree that the key to the crisis remains in the hands of common Syrians. The hardships of military confrontation, refuge and sufferings have made Syrians a resilient nation.

Analysts believe that Syrians are no longer satisfied with the role of “observes” so  they’re determined to make a change in the situation in their country.

Yuriy Zinin, senior researcher at the Moscow State Institute of International Relations (MGIMO), exclusively for the online magazineNew Eastern Outlook”.

Please select digest to download: