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Only bad news out of Syria

  • February 27th, 2014
  • Posted by EU Australia

Syria 27.2.14Pessimism ruled this month over the warfare in Syria after the ending of peace talks in Geneva with no sign of settlement.


The United Nations sponsored negotiations, 10-15.2.14, could not move on from a deadlocked outcome earlier on, at Montreux then Geneva 22-31.1.14.

The government and opposition groups agreed, after a time, to share the same room, but hardly spoke except to exchange invective.

The oppositionists had wanted to follow up terms agreed at earlier negotiations, that the agenda would focus on creating a transitional authority, working towards free elections.

The government of President Bashar al-Assad  (picture) instead wanted a dialogue on terrorism, pointing to the extreme elements mixed in with the rebel forces; it was an attitude affected too by signs that their armed forces were steadily getting  the edge in the fighting on the ground.


Local ceasefires were arranged and trapped civilians escorted to safety, and some efforts have been under way to convene a new meeting.

Howver, fighting continued throughout, and amid the mayhem and suffering, on Wednesday the United States said Syrian state agents had arrested family members of actual Geneva delegates, in an act of retaliation.

Reflecting the pessimistic mood, the head of the International Crisis Group, an organisation committed to preventing violent resolution of conflict, described the Syrian conflict  as intractable.


Louise Arbour, its President and Chief Executive, in Dublin told the Irish Times,   the crisis in Syria was worse than  a “proxy war” or “spill-over” into neighbouring states; it was becoming more like the  “epicentre of a regional  war”.

Extract from the article:

Although the lack of progress during weekend talks in Geneva pointed to fresh efforts to bring the “sponsors” of both the Assad regime and the rebels around the table, many analysts held out little hope of a breakthrough in that forum.

“It’s complicated enough to get on the one hand Iran, Hizbullah, and then the Saudis, the Qataris, Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey, not to mention the US, Russia; all  this configuration of actors, potential spoilers – that may be an avenue that needs to be explored,” Ms Arbour said.

“Many would say this is now too late for that: in part the positions are too entrenched, they’re all too involved in the conflict.”

Asked what the outlook would be if such engagements failed, she said there might well be a revival of calls for the same kind of military interventions that were sought before the chemical weapons deal with the Assad regime.

“It’s possible that if there’s no serious penetration of humanitarian aid and we continue to see the level of casualties increasing that the time may come when there will be a kind of popular opinion revival of this idea. Mind you, in a lot of places its wasn’t very popular,” she said.

“It’s not impossible that there’ll be a call for everything from increased military assistance to the opposition, to increased weaponisation of the conflict, all the way to actual . . . no-fly zones, which of course mean an attack. You cannot enforce a no-fly zone without taking down the air defence system. So I think this may resurface as an option unless there’s some sort of revival of the political negotiations.”

See also, EUAustralia Online, Any help possible for Syria and Ukraine …?, 3.2.14.


Arthur Beesley, Syrian conflict ‘looking more like a regional war with an epicentre in Syria’, says envoy, Irish Times, Dublin, 19.2.14.

Michael R. Gordon and Ben Hubbardfeb, Kerry Blames Syria Government for Deadlock in Talks, NYT, NY, 26.2.14., (27.2.14).