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

Lebanese Media Unite to Support Palestinians in Gaza

Joint newscast billed as Arab world’s first unified news bulletin in support of Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip More

Photogallery Australian PM Alleges ‘Coverup’ at MH17 Crash Site

Meanwhile, Russia's ambassador to Malaysia denies plane's black boxes were opened before they were handed over to Malaysian officials More

Despite Advances in AIDS Treatment, Stigma Lingers

Leading immunologist tells VOA that stigma is often what prevents those infected with disease from seeking treatment More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Formi
X
July 22, 2014 10:26 AM
Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Relic of Saint Draws Catholics Worried About Immigration Issue

A Roman Catholic saint who is a figure of devotion for those crossing the border into the United States is attracting believers concerned about the plight of undocumented immigrants. Mike O'Sullivan reports from Los Angeles, where a relic of Saint Toribio has drawn thousands to local churches.
Video

Video Ukraine Rebels Surrender MH17 Black Boxes

After days of negotiations, a senior separatist leader handed over two black boxes from an airliner downed over eastern Ukraine to Malaysian experts early Tuesday. While on Monday, the U.N. Security Council unanimously demanded that armed groups controlling the crash site allow safe and unrestricted access to the wreckage.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.
Video

Video Nature of Space Exploration Enters New Age

Forty-five years ago this month, the first humans walked on the moon. It was during an era of the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. World politics have changed since then and -- as Elizabeth Lee reports -- so has the nature of space exploration.
Video

Video Chicago’s Argonne Lab Developing Battery of the Future

In 2012, the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science awarded a $120 million grant to a new technology center focused on battery development - headquartered at Argonne National Laboratory in suburban Chicago, Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there scientists are making the next technological breakthroughs in energy storage.
Video

Video In NW Pakistan, Army Offensive Causes Massive Number of Displaced

Pakistan’s army offensive in North Waziristan has resulted in the large-scale displacement of the local population. VOA's Ayaz Gul reports from northwest Pakistan where authorities say around 80 percent of the estimated 1 million internally displaced persons [IDPs] have settled in Bannu district, while much of the remaining 20 percent are scattered in nearby cities.
Video

Video Kurdish Peshmerga Force Secures Kirkuk, Its Oil

The Kurdistan regional government has sent its Peshmerga troops into the adjacent province of Kirkuk to drive out insurgents, and to secure the area's rich oil fields. By doing this, the regional government has added a fourth province to the three it officially controls. The oil also provides revenue that could make an independent Kurdistan economically strong. VOA’s Jeffrey Young went out with the Peshmerga and filed this report.
Video

Video Malaysia Reeling: Second Air Disaster in Four Months

Malaysia is reeling from the second air disaster in four months involving the country’s flag carrier. Flight 340 vanished in March and despite an extensive search, no debris has been found. And on Thursday, Flight 17, likely hit by a surface-to-air missile, came apart over eastern Ukraine. The two incidents together have left more than 500 people dead. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Kuala Lumpur.

AppleAndroid