News / Middle East

Brahimi Sets Deadline for Naming Syrian Delegations to Talks

FILE - U.N. Special Representative Lakhdar Brahimi in Geneva, Switzerland.
FILE - U.N. Special Representative Lakhdar Brahimi in Geneva, Switzerland.
Reuters
— International mediator Lakhdar Brahimi has given Syria's warring sides until December 27 to name their delegations to planned peace negotiations next month, officials said on Thursday.
 
(L) Fighters operating under the Free Syrian Army drag a rocket launcher in Aleppo, Nov, 13, 2013. (R) Soldiers loyal to Syria's President Bashar al-Assad pose after taking control of Hujaira, south of Damascus, from rebel fighters, in this handout photo distributed by SANA.(L) Fighters operating under the Free Syrian Army drag a rocket launcher in Aleppo, Nov, 13, 2013. (R) Soldiers loyal to Syria's President Bashar al-Assad pose after taking control of Hujaira, south of Damascus, from rebel fighters, in this handout photo distributed by SANA.
x
(L) Fighters operating under the Free Syrian Army drag a rocket launcher in Aleppo, Nov, 13, 2013. (R) Soldiers loyal to Syria's President Bashar al-Assad pose after taking control of Hujaira, south of Damascus, from rebel fighters, in this handout photo distributed by SANA.
(L) Fighters operating under the Free Syrian Army drag a rocket launcher in Aleppo, Nov, 13, 2013. (R) Soldiers loyal to Syria's President Bashar al-Assad pose after taking control of Hujaira, south of Damascus, from rebel fighters, in this handout photo distributed by SANA.
​About 30 ministers from big powers, regional countries and others are due to gather in the resort of Montreux on January 22 to give their blessing to the negotiations between the government of President Bashar al-Assad and rebels fighting to oust him.
 
Then Brahimi will broker the first face-to-face Syrian talks in Geneva from January 23. U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is to confirm the Montreux ministerial venue shortly - Geneva hotels will be full at the time due to an annual luxury watch fair.
 
The stated goal is to agree on a transitional government with full powers to end a 1,000-day-old conflict that has killed well over 100,000 people and forced millions to flee their homes.
 
Brahimi has set a deadline for Damascus and the opposition to name their teams to the “Geneva 2 conference”, which follows one held by his predecessor Kofi Annan in June 2012. Those talks did not formally involve the Syrian government and its foes.
 
The envoy's spokeswoman, Khawla Mattar, said Brahimi wanted the delegations named by December 27.

“That is the deadline by which Brahimi should receive the names of the Syrian delegations and who is leading them,” she said.
 
This is unlikely to present a problem to Assad's government, but his opponents are deeply divided and in disarray.
 
“The biggest challenge is the opposition delegation. There is still no agreement,” an Arab diplomat said.
 
General Salim Idriss, head of the Western-backed Free Syrian Army, said on November 26 that his group would shun the peace conference and pursue its fight to topple Assad regardless.
 
The Syrian National Coalition opposition group, which also has Western support but minimal influence over fighters on the ground, has said it is ready to attend, but demands that Assad  play no role in the proposed transitional government.
 
“With every day that passes the opposition is getting more fractured,” said a Western diplomat. “We have to make sure they turn up and they are united. That is the biggest challenge.”

Coaching the opposition
 
Experts from the United Nations and Western allies are helping prepare opposition representatives for tough negotiations.

“The Swiss are doing it, the Americans too. They are training them in negotiating skills,” said one source.
 
The Western diplomat said: “They need a lot of work, they have to be ready to come to the table, be ready to speak, have a communications strategy and understand the negotiating process.”
 
Brahimi is to meet U.S. and Russian officials in Geneva on December 20 to try to settle the divisive issue of the guest list for the ministerial meeting, particularly whether to invite Syria's ally Iran.
 
The former Algerian foreign minister and veteran U.N. envoy has said he wants both Iran and Saudi Arabia at the table.
 
Some expect a diplomatic solution on Iran to be finessed.
 
“There might be some fudge in which you would have certain countries within the room itself and then a delegation in the corridor and not getting access to the main negotiating chamber, but in some way present,” a diplomatic source suggested.
 
Washington has said Iran cannot be included unless it approves the text agreed in Geneva on June 30, 2012 which set out a roadmap for transition but left open Assad's part in it.
 
“Iran won't accept the notion of political transition,” the diplomatic source said.
 
Assad, emboldened by a string of military successes, has said he will send delegates to the Geneva talks but will accept no preconditions and will put any agreement to a referendum - a vote which opposition figures say will be rigged against them.
 
It is not yet clear how long the peace conference being held at the U.N. European headquarters in Geneva will last.
 
“Once it starts, he [Brahimi] wants there to be a timeframe for the two Syrian delegations, it should not be open-ended,” Mattar said.
 
The Western diplomat said getting the two sides in the same room would be a major achievement, but that that would only be a start.

“It will probably be a year and take several rounds.”

You May Like

Uganda Court Annuls Anti-Gay Law

Court says law was passed in parliament without enough members present for a full quorum More

Multimedia Thailand Makes Efforts to Improve Conditions for Migrant Laborers

In Thailand, its not uncommon for parents to bring their children to work; one company, in-collaboration with other organizations, address safety concerns More

In Indonesia, Jihad Video Raises Concern

Video calls on Indonesians to join Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, ISIL More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
In Thailand, Some Efforts to Improve Conditions For Migrant Laborersi
X
Steve Herman
August 01, 2014 6:22 PM
Thailand has been facing increasing international scrutiny as a hub of human trafficking and slave labor. Some of the kingdom’s companies are striving to improve working conditions, especially for the millions of migrant laborers from surrounding countries. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok takes a look at one initiative for children at construction sites
Video

Video In Thailand, Some Efforts to Improve Conditions For Migrant Laborers

Thailand has been facing increasing international scrutiny as a hub of human trafficking and slave labor. Some of the kingdom’s companies are striving to improve working conditions, especially for the millions of migrant laborers from surrounding countries. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok takes a look at one initiative for children at construction sites
Video

Video Public Raises its Voice on Power Plant Pollution

In the United States, proposed rules to cut pollution from the nation’s 600 coal-fired power plants are generating a heated debate. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, charged with writing and implementing the plan, has already received 300,000 written comments. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, another 1,600 people are lining up this week at EPA headquarters and at satellite offices around the country to give their testimony in person.
Video

Video Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukraine

The downing of the Malaysian airliner two weeks ago, and allegations that Russians are shelling Ukrainian troops across the border, have moved the information war swirling around the Ukrainian conflict to a new level. VOA's Al Pessin reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video When Fighting Eases, Gazans Line Up at Bakeries

When there is a lull in the conflict in Gaza, residents who have been hunkered down in their apartments rush out to stock up on food and other necessities. Probably the most important destination is the local bakery. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Gaza City.
Video

Video China Investigates Powerful Former Security Chief

The public in China is welcoming the Communist Party's decision to investigate one of the country's once most powerful politicians, former domestic security chief Zhou Yongkang. Analysts say the move by President Xi Jinping is not only an effort to win more support for the party, but an essential step to furthering much needed economic reforms and removing those who would stand in the way of change. VOA's Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video US-Funded Program Offers Honduran Children Alternative to Illegal Immigration

President Obama and Central American leaders recently agreed to come up with a plan to address poverty and crime in the region that is fueling the surge of young migrants trying to illegally enter the United States. VOA’s Brian Padden looks at one such program in Honduras - funded in part by the United States - which gives street kids not only food and safety but a chance for a better life without, crossing the border.
Video

Video 'Fab Lab' Igniting Revolution in Kenya

The University of Nairobi’s Science and Technology Park is banking on 3-D prototyping to spark a manufacturing revolution in the country. Lenny Ruvaga has more for from Nairobi's so-called “FabLab” for VOA.
Video

Video Immigrant Influx on Texas Border Heats Up Political Debate

Immigrants from Central America continue to cross the U.S.-Mexico border in south Texas, seeking asylum in the United States, as officials grapple with ways to deal with the problem and provide shelter for thousands of minors among the illegal border crossers. As VOA's Greg Flakus reports from Houston, the issue is complicated by internal U.S. politics and U.S. relations with the troubled nations that immigrants are fleeing.

AppleAndroid