News / Middle East

Friends of Syria Push Opposition Toward Geneva Talks

Friends of Syria Pushing Opposition Toward Geneva Talksi
X
January 13, 2014 4:56 PM
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry joined other foreign ministers backing opponents of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in Paris Sunday. They are trying to bring together disparate civilian and military components of the uprising ahead of planned peace talks later this month. VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the French capital, Syria's government and its opponents remain divided over the purpose of those talks.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry joined other foreign ministers backing opponents of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in Paris Sunday.  They are trying to bring together disparate civilian and military components of the uprising ahead of planned peace talks later this month. Syria's government and its opponents remain divided over the purpose of those talks.

Rival opponents of Assad battle for control of parts of Aleppo.  The main rebel coalition fights to reverse gains by extremist militias allied with al-Qaida.

In Paris, foreign ministers discussed those developments as they worked to strengthen Syria's more moderate opposition ahead of peace talks planned in Geneva this month. 

"The international community must gather around a single conviction that there is no other solution for the Syrian tragedy than a political solution and there is no possibility to achieve one if the Geneva talks do not take place," said French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius.

But Assad opponents have not committed to those talks because of differences about who truly represents the Syrian people, said U.S. Institute of Peace analyst Steve Heydemann.

"The Syrian coalition feels quite insecure about whether it would participate in Geneva as the sole, legitimate representative of the Syrian people. There's concern that their participation could be compromised if groups outside of the coalition were invited to Geneva in the name of inclusion," he said.

And that's putting pressure on the so-called Friends of Syria -- mostly Western and Gulf Arab governments that back Syria's opposition.

"If the core Friends of Syria group can not bring to Geneva a broad enough cross section of the opposition to make those negotiations credible, then the outcome is never going to be accepted, never going to be taken as legitimate by groups on the ground, particularly armed groups," said Heydemann.

The head of Syria's main civilian opposition, Ahmad al-Jarba,  met with foreign ministers in Paris Sunday and said Syrians were united behind removing their president.

"The most important aspect of today's meeting is that we all agree to say that Assad has no future in Syria," he said.

But President Assad said he's not stepping down, and that these talks would be about fighting terrorists, among whom he includes the armed opposition. Assad was in a far stronger position than he was a year ago, said former U.S. ambassador Adam Ereli, and that made the talks even more difficult.

"If I'm sitting in Damascus in the presidential palace, I'll say: 'What transition? What the heck are you talking about? I'm not going anywhere, and who's going to make me?'," he said.

Beyond the question of Syria's opposition, there's also the issue of whether and how Iran might join the talks in Geneva. That's the focal point of talks here between Secretary Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Monday.

You May Like

For Lebanon-based Refugees, Desperation Fuels Perilous Passage

In a war that has caused an estimated three million people to flee Syria, efforts to make perilous sea journey in search of asylum expected to increase More

South African Brewer Tackles Climate Change

Mega-brewer SAB Miller sent delegates to climate summit in Peru, says it is one of many private companies taking their own steps to fight climate change More

Indonesia Reports Increase in Citizens Joining Islamic State

Officials say more than 350 of its citizens are now in Syria or Iraq to fight with Islamic State - 50 more than last month More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Will Pakistan School Shooting Galvanize Pakistan Against Extremism?i
X
Ayesha Tanzeem
December 17, 2014 11:54 AM
The attack on a military school in Pakistan’s northwest city of Peshawar left 141 dead, including 132 children. Strong statements of condemnation poured in from across the world. The country announced three days of mourning, and the leadership, both political and military, promised retribution. VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem looks at how likely the Pakistani government is to clamp down on all extremist groups.
Video

Video Will Pakistan School Shooting Galvanize Pakistan Against Extremism?

The attack on a military school in Pakistan’s northwest city of Peshawar left 141 dead, including 132 children. Strong statements of condemnation poured in from across the world. The country announced three days of mourning, and the leadership, both political and military, promised retribution. VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem looks at how likely the Pakistani government is to clamp down on all extremist groups.
Video

Video ‘Anti-Islamization’ Marches Increase Tensions In Germany

Anti-immigrant rallies in Germany have been building in recent weeks, peaking Monday night in the city of Dresden where tens of thousands of people turned out to demonstrate against what they call the ‘Islamization’ of the West. Germany has offered asylum to more Syrian refugees than any other country, and this appears to have set off the protests. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.
Video

Video Turkey's Authoritarianism Dismays Western Allies

The Turkish government has been defiant in the face of criticism at home and abroad for its raids targeting opposition media. The European Union on Monday expressed dismay after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan lashed out at Brussels for criticizing his government's action. Turkey's bid to be considered for EU membership has been on hold while critics accuse the NATO ally of increasingly authoritarian rule. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video US-China Year in Review: Hong Kong to Climate Change

The United States is pushing for a code of conduct to resolve territorial disputes in the South China Sea as it works to improve commercial ties with Beijing. VOA State Department correspondent Scott Stearns reports on a year of U.S. policy toward China from Hong Kong to climate change.
Video

Video Japanese Leader’s Election Win Raises Potential for Conflict with Neighbors

Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his allies easily won a two-thirds majority in parliament Sunday, even though the country has slipped into recession under his conservative policies. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from Seoul, that the prime minister’s victory will empower him to continue economic reforms but also pursue a nationalist agenda that will likely increase tensions with Japan’s neighbors.
Video

Video Nuba Mountain Families Hide in Caves to Escape Aerial Bombings

Despite ongoing peace talks between Sudan's government and the rebel Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North, or SPLM-N, daily aerial attacks continue in South Kordofan province’s Nuba Mountains. Adam Bailes was there and reports for VOA that government forces are targeting civilian areas, rather than military positions, with their daily bombardments.

All About America

AppleAndroid