Syria peace talks postponement exposes cracks among world powers

The adjourning of the peace talks mediated by the United Nations to end the years-long Syrian conflicts has exposed a deep rift between world powers as a blame game is heating up over the suspension of the much-anticipated diplomatic efforts.


On Friday, tensions were running high after the UN Security Council met for closed-door consultations with Staffan de Mistura, special envoy for Syria, over who was to blame for the halt of the third round of Syria peace talks.

SyriaCommenting on Mistura’s briefing, French Ambassador to the UN Francoise Delattre told reporters that the UN envoy “confirms what we already knew — the Syrian regime and its allies have made no concessions.”

“On the one hand, the Syrian regime claims to discuss peace in Geneva, and on the other hand, it intensifies its military offensive against opposition groups with which it is supposed to discuss,” said Delattre.

On Wednesday, Mistura announced “a pause” of the intra-Syrian peace talks that had only lasted three days, saying the talks are to resume in Geneva on Feb. 25.

Analysts said there were no tangible results achieved amid a still wide disagreement between the Syrian government led by President Bashar al-Assad and the opposition.

“A peace process for the sake of process is meaningless,” Delattre said. “It must produce results and be credible to all Syrians.”

In a clear response to the French envoy’s remarks, Russia’s ambassador to the UN Vitaly Churkin said Russia was upset that the talks that started on Monday did not continue, while accusing the opposition group of lacking sincerity in the peace talks.

“The opposition group which presented itself as the main group from the opposition, in our view, did not really come to negotiate,” Churkin said. “They came to look for a pretext to walk out of the negotiations.”

Churkin’s opinion was contradicted by that of Riad Hibjab, coordinator of the Syrian opposition delegation.

The coordinator told reporters after the Syria peace talks were put on hold on Wednesday that peace can’t be done with the presence of Bashar al-Assad and with the foreign forces meddling.

“We came to Geneva and were keen to make it a success, but it seems that the other side doesn’t want it to be a success,” he said.

The Russian UN envoy also expressed disappointment by claiming the opposition was “not as representative as it was supposed to be.”

“The talks have been weakened by the fact that Turkey went out of its way to block the participation of Syrian Kurds,” Churkin said.

“We are disappointed that what we called the Cairo-Moscow group of the opposition was not properly in Geneva. They came in but with a status that was not fully official,” he added.

As to the ongoing bombardment of Aleppo in northern Syria, which in Churkin’s words is aimed at helping the Syrian government re-conquer some ground “taken from their control by terrorists and other opposition groups,” the Russian diplomat said his country cannot stop it “unilaterally.”

“What about the opposition and terrorist groups? Are they going to stop too? What about this American-led coalition? Are they going to stop too?” he asked.

Since its start in 2011, the Syria war, estimates show, has killed 250,000 people, internally displaced 6.5 million and caused more than 4 million to flee the country. About 13.5 million people inside the country are now in urgent need of humanitarian aid. Enditem


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