News / Middle East

Key Component of Syria Talks Elusive

A Stumbling Block in Syria Negotiationsi
X
January 30, 2014
Primary objectiveof this week’s Syria peace talks in Geneva was to implement the communique of an international conference held a year and a half ago. But one of its key components is vague.

VIDEO: Transition negotiators from both sides have been extremely hostile to each other in public, failing to agree on even basic humanitarian issues.

TEXT SIZE - +
Al Pessin
— As fighting in Syria continues, the number of civilians killed, injured and displaced is rising daily.

Tasked with implementing the communique of an international conference held a year and a half ago, the Geneva Conference of 2012 — which envisions an end to the violence, a new constitution and free elections organized by a so-called “transitional governing body” — is faced with one distinct problem: no one knows exactly what that term means.
 
A key components of the talks, the notion of a transitional governing entity is vague, and no one expects the parties to agree on it for the foreseeable future.

“At the moment I really don’t think that anyone has a vision really of what this transitional government would look like in practical terms," says Middle East expert Hannah Poppy of the London-based Risk Advisory Group, speaking via Skype. "It’s very much an aspirational idea or concept that is yet to take any kind of practical formation.”

While any transitional body would be expected to bring government and opposition figures together, negotiators from both sides have been extremely hostile to each other in public comments, and even in meeting rooms, where they have mostly discussed humanitarian issues via U.N. and Arab League mediators, they've also failed to find agreement.

Assad

Any talk of a political transition would involve discussing the future of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, whom the opposition insists must go and the government insists must stay.

Professor Reinoud Leenders of King’s College says opposition leaders have no flexibility on the issue because of the diverse and fractious coalition they represent.

“They are not in a position to make any compromises on this," he said. "When they would be seen as making compromises on that key issue, I think they will be losing any influence on the ground.”

But, he adds, government officials are also disinclined to compromise, even with foreign supporters Russia and Iran urging them to.

"For them, basically this is a struggle for regime survival, and the regime at its essence is basically a small group of officials and leaders,” said Leenders.

The experts say top Syrian officials, like those at the Geneva talks, are not likely to negotiate themselves out of their jobs, and possibly into exile or jail.

“If they continue to focus on the personality of Bashar al-Assad, the talks are really not going to go anywhere,” Poppy added.

But no one has any alternative either, leaving the process stuck on its key, but ambiguous goal, which the parties so far can’t even discuss.

You May Like

Analysts Warn of Regional Proxy Conflict in Afghanistan

Analysts warn if Kabul’s neighbors do not start to cooperate, competing desires for influence could deteriorate into a bloody proxy war in the country More

Saudi Intelligence Chief Replaced

Bandar bin Sultan came under criticism for supporting al Qaida, prompting King Abdallah to wrest Syria operations away from him in February, handing them to Interior Minister Prince Mohammed bin Nayef More

Poetry Magazine editor Don Share talks what makes a good poem with VOA's David Byrd

What makes a good poem? And is poetry as viable an art form as it once was? To find out, VOA's David Byrd spoke to Don Share, the editor of Poetry Magazine. More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Google Buys Drone Companyi
|| 0:00:00
...
 
🔇
X
George Putic
April 15, 2014
In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Ray Bonneville Sings the Blues and More on New CD

Singer/songwriter Ray Bonneville has released a new CD called “Easy Gone” with music that reflects his musical and personal journey from French-speaking Canada to his current home in Austin,Texas. The eclectic artist’s fan base extends from Texas to various parts of North America and Europe. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin.
Video

Video Millions Labor in Pakistan's Informal Economy

The World Bank says that in Pakistan, roughly 70 percent work in the so-called informal sector, a part of the economy that is unregulated and untaxed. VOA's Sharon Behn reports from Islamabad on how the informal sector impact's the Pakistani economy.
Video

Video Passover Celebrates Liberation from Bondage

Jewish people around the world are celebrating Passover, a commemoration of their liberation from slavery in Egypt more than 3,300 years ago. According to scripture, God helped the Jews, led by Moses, escape bondage in Egypt and cross the Red Sea into the desert. Zlatica Hoke reports that the story of the Jewish Exodus resonates with other people trying to escape slave-like conditions.
Video

Video Police Pursue Hate Crime Charges Against Kansas Shooting Suspect

Prosecutors are sifting through the evidence in the wake of Sunday’s shootings in a suburb of Kansas City, Missouri that left three people dead. A suspect in the shootings taken into custody is a white supremacist. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, he was well-known to law enforcement agencies and human rights groups alike.
Video

Video In Eastern Ukraine, Pro-unity Activists Emerge from Shadows

Amid the pro-Russian uprisings in eastern Ukraine, there is a large body of activists who support Ukrainian unity and reject Russian intervention. Their activities have remained largely underground, but they are preparing to take on their pro-Moscow opponents, as Henry Ridgwell reports from the eastern city of Donetsk.
Video

Video Basket Maker’s Skills Have World Reach

A prestigious craft show in the U.S. capital offers one-of-a-kind creations by more than 120 artists working in a variety of media. As VOA’s Julie Taboh reports from Washington, one artist lucky enough to be selected says sharing her skills with women overseas is just as significant.
Video

Video UN Report Urges Speedier Action to Avoid Climate Disaster

A new United Nations report says the world must switch from fossil fuels to cleaner energy sources to control the effects of climate change. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released the report (Sunday) following a meeting of scientists and government representatives in Berlin. The comprehensive review follows two recent IPCC reports that detail the certainty of climate change, its impacts and in this most recent report what to do about it. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble has the details.
AppleAndroid