No end in sight
During the fledgling peace talks, the Syrian troops backed by Iran and the Russian lethal airstrikes, launched an offensive against rebels-held towns in Aleppo with the purpose of undermining the peace talks. Ever since Russia intervened militarily on behalf of Assad regime, the military efforts have been mainly targeting the moderate opposition groups rather than Daesh. Driven by the recent military gains in the north and south of Syria, Assad looks as if he has decided to undermine the peace talks hoping that his troops would decide matters on the ground.
Of course, the Syrian regime puts the blame on the opposition for the failure of the third round of Geneva peace talks. In a press conference, Assad’s Foreign Minister Walid Al-Muallem made it perfectly clear that his government would not accept preconditions. He called a cease-fire and humanitarian access to areas besieged by fighting as preconditions. Obviously, he is not moved by the news of thousands of people leaving their towns and stuck on the Syrian-Turkish borders. His insistence that his government is fighting “terrorism” is a smokescreen to conceal the real objective of Assad in this war. It goes without saying that Assad and his cronies care less about civilians especially with the unqualified logistical Russian support.
Observers do not pin hopes on the current Syrian regime to alleviate the pressure of besieged civilians. Besides, the American administration has done little to push the Syrian government change course. Now US Secretary of State John Kerry found himself increasingly pushed into a corner by his inability to convince the Russians to stop bombarding and killing civilians. His recent diplomacy has gone nowhere. His comments that the coming few days will show whether or not people are serious about humanitarian access to the besieged areas and a cease-fire is unlikely to change the current course of the crisis. Explicit in the Syrian government and the Russian current campaign is that they do not take Kerry’s words and warning seriously.
As long as the Syrian government thinks that it could win militarily, there is no room for diplomacy. Al-Muallem commented on the suspension the peace talks by saying that his government would continue fighting terrorism and that anyone taking to arms against the regime would be considered a terrorist. Last week, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov echoed Al-Muallem by saying that he saw no reason to stop the airstrikes … and that Russia would continue its airstrike against “terrorists.”
If things go on unchecked, the crisis is most likely to deteriorate. Unless all stakeholders outside Syria fine-tune peace talks between the opposition and the Syrian government, it is hard to see a light at the end of the tunnel. Hence, the Syrian government backed by both Russia and Iran will try to create new facts on the ground to bolster Assad regime. It seems that the Russians are still interested in buying time. Therefore, talks for the sake of talks with the purpose to continue the bombing is more likely given the entrenched position of Russia and its proxies in Syria.
I think that the international community should have realized by now that neither the Syrian government nor the Russians are interested in fighting Daesh.
In brief, I would argue that the Russians and the Syrian government are in a defiant mood. For the next round of talks to be meaningful, the United States and its allies should think of two things: Humanitarian airdrops and help the moderate opposition roll back the regime’s troops.
Disclaimer: Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not necessarily reflect Arab News' point-of-view