Efforts for peace in Syria stalled

(VOVworld) – The Syrian opposition has withdrawn from peace talks in Geneva due to what it calls the deteriorating security and humanitarian situation in Syria. This has stalled efforts to end Syria’s 6-year civil war.   

Efforts for peace in Syria stalled - ảnh 1

Riad Hijab, General Coordinator of the Syrian opposition, said on Monday that negotiations in Geneva can’t continue if violence goes on despite a ceasefire. The opposition has withdrawn from the peace talks and says it will launch an assault against government forces in Latakia province on the Mediterranean coast. With the worsening situation in Syria, the international community fears that the civil war there is far from ending.

Intractable differences

The Syrian opposition refuses to continue negotiations because it says no progress toward President Assad’s resignation has been achieved. It accuses the Syrian government of not honoring the ceasefire and conducting a military offensive in Aleppo. The opposition has accused the Syrian army backed by Russian airstrikes of launching an assault on an area adjacent to Aleppo.

The Syrian government has blamed Turkey, Israel, and Saudi Arabia for the opposition’s withdrawal from the talks, calling it a lack of political will.

The latest round of talks followed a month-long pause after the 1st round of talks collapsed with the opposition withdrawing in protest. All negotiations have been through the mediation of the United Nations. UN Syria Envoy Staffan de Mistura said it has been difficult to narrow the differences between the two sides. The Syrian government and opposition agree there should be a political transition. Their biggest difference is over President Assad’s role in it. Russia has insisted on maintaining the current constitutional government, a condition rejected by the US.

The Western-backed opposition High Negotiations Committee has set a condition that a transitional council be established to run Syria for 18 months until a new presidential election can be held and insists that President Assad resign.

Escalating tensions

Military conflict has been escalating in Syria. According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, the number of casualties in recent days has been the highest since a ceasefire took effect on February 27. On April 19 alone 44 civilians were killed in airstrikes by government forces targeting 2 markets in northwestern Idlib province controlled by Al-Nusra Front forces. The 6-year civil war has claimed the lives of approximately 270,000 people and made millions flee Syria, creating the worst migrant crisis in Europe’s history.

Shuttle diplomacy continues despite the Syrian opposition’s withdrawal from the peace talks. UN Syria Envoy Staffan de Mistura is holding meetings with parties concerned in an effort to revive the talks this week. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said the Geneva talks are not dead yet and he believes the Syrian government’s proposal to establish an expanded government led by President Assad will ease current tension. However, that proposal has already been rejected by the opposition High Negotiations Committee, which said it is ready to share power with other members of the current government, but not President Assad.