“It is regrettable, Ladies and Gentlemen, that seated amongst us today in this room, are representatives of countries that have the blood of Syrians on their hands, countries that have exported terrorism along with clemency for the perpetrators, as if it was their God given right to determine who will go to heaven and who will go to hell.” – Walid Al-Moallem, Syrian Foreign Minister.
Geneva II is off to a rocky start. The absence of Iran looms over the conference and the Syrian regime sounds far from conciliatory.The words of the Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Al-Moallem, blaming several countries for having blood on their hands, sound unbelievably hypocritical considering the hands of the Assad regime are bloody as hell. Human Right groups have documented the various forms of extreme violence and forced disappearances that even increased since the international outrage over the chemical attack in August, and they are pointing fingers?
Analysts are saying that nothing big will come out of the negotiations but possibly some minor steps like limited cease-fires, prisoner exchanges and improved access for humanitarian aid. And then what? ‘Free and fair elections without outside interference’ as Hassan Rouhani suggested? How can we then ensure that the elections are indeed free and fair? The Syrian regime already seems to be preparing getting away with election fraud. By sending out false reports of a supposed NATO poll that concluded 70% of Syrians still support Assad, for example.
What if Assad keeps sticking to its power as if it depends on his life (which it probably does), atrocities continue to be committed by the regime as well as by jihadist fighters and the negotiations fail to bring about any real change? The failure of the negotiations is not such a crazy prediction, not the least because Iran – the party with the most leverage on the Syrian regime – is excluded from the talks. Another important factor is that the party who is representing the Syrian opposition in Geneva, the Istanbul-based Free Syrian Army, is losing its legitimacy among the rebels on the ground. Many have already denounced the talks before they even started.
I’ve consistently been against military intervention because of the possibility that Iran would decide to stick up for its Syrian ally and then Israel – whose leaders are actually quite happy with the status quo of the Syrian civil war at the moment – would get uneasy having Iran bombing their backyard. However, considering there’s a minimal but nonetheless significant détente between the West and Iran now, there’s a little bit more space for a possible intervention. And that space could become much bigger if Iranian-Israeli relations would finally come out of the gutter. Maybe, when Kerry is down in Israel trying to further the Israeli-Palestinian negotiations – if this will ever happen – the US could also make an effort in bringing about a change in the relations between the two countries. And then we can definitely start talking about a viable humanitarian intervention in Syria which should focus on delivering much needed aid to the Syrian population.
This sounds like a nice fairy tale, but can this ever become true? So far we’ve seen little commitment by the US or Europe to actually solve the Syrian mess, chiefly out of fear that another Islamic Republic would sprout out of Syrian soil which could prove more challenging to their interests than Assad’s regime. And Israel’s rhetoric about Iran But one can dream. Every once in a while, even in international politics, fairy tales do come true.