News / Middle East

    Syrian Peace Talks Start Without Opposition Representatives

    An overview of the room where Staffan de Mistura, the U.N. mediator for Syria, and the Syrian delegation, led by Syrian Ambassador to the U.N. Bashar Jaafari, opened the Syrian peace talks at the U.N. European headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland, Jan. 29,
    An overview of the room where Staffan de Mistura, the U.N. mediator for Syria, and the Syrian delegation, led by Syrian Ambassador to the U.N. Bashar Jaafari, opened the Syrian peace talks at the U.N. European headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland, Jan. 29,
    Luis Ramirez

    U.N. officials in Geneva went ahead with peace talks Friday on ending the war in Syria, despite a boycott by the main Syrian opposition group.

    The talks started with a meeting at the U.N. offices in Geneva between U.N. Special Envoy to Syria Staffan de Mistura and a Syrian government delegation headed by the Syrian ambassador to the U.N., Bashar Jaafari.

    After the meeting, de Mistura told reporters he hoped to meet with representatives of the opposition group, the High Negotiations Committee, on Sunday.

    Demonstrators holding a Free Syria flag and placards reading "Stop the killing in Syria" take part in a protest outside the United Nations (UN) offices in Geneva, on Jan. 29, 2016 on the opening day of Syrian peace talks.
    Demonstrators holding a Free Syria flag and placards reading "Stop the killing in Syria" take part in a protest outside the United Nations (UN) offices in Geneva, on Jan. 29, 2016 on the opening day of Syrian peace talks.

    "I have good reasons to believe that they are actually considering this very seriously, and therefore to be in a position on probably Sunday, to actually start the discussion with them, in order to be able to proceed with the intra-Syrian talks," de Mistura said.

    The group, which has been meeting in Riyadh, said it would send a small team of representatives to Geneva late Saturday to talk with U.N. officials, but “not to negotiate.”

    The HNC had earlier said it would not join the negotiations after its demands were not met for an end to airstrikes on civilians by the Syrian government and Russia and a lifting of the sieges in areas they control.

    On Friday, the group said it decided to send a delegation after receiving “assurances.” A spokesperson gave no details of what those assurances were.

    Forces loyal to Syria's President Bashar al-Assad stand in front of damaged shops in the town of Rabiya after they recaptured the rebel-held town in coastal Latakia province, Syria, Jan. 27, 2016.Forces loyal to Syria's President Bashar al-Assad stand in front of damaged shops in the town of Rabiya after they recaptured the rebel-held town in coastal Latakia province, Syria, Jan. 27, 2016.
    x
    Forces loyal to Syria's President Bashar al-Assad stand in front of damaged shops in the town of Rabiya after they recaptured the rebel-held town in coastal Latakia province, Syria, Jan. 27, 2016.
    Forces loyal to Syria's President Bashar al-Assad stand in front of damaged shops in the town of Rabiya after they recaptured the rebel-held town in coastal Latakia province, Syria, Jan. 27, 2016.

    U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said in a statement, "The United States welcomes the important decision by the High Negotiations Committee of the Syrian opposition to attend negotiations hosted by the United Nations in Geneva."

    The talks are the first attempt at peace since negotiations collapsed in 2014.

    Difficult process

    The civil war in Syria has dragged for nearly five years, killed a quarter-million people and displaced millions more. The conflict has also seen the birth of the Islamic State militant group and triggered a massive wave of refugees to Western Europe.

    The battles in Syria have intensified since September, when Russia began airstrikes in support of President Bashar al-Assad, countering the efforts of opposition groups supported by the United States, some members of the European Union, Turkey and Saudi Arabia.

    The complicated backdrop makes the peace process especially difficult.

    Russian President Vladimir Putin, right, shakes hands with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad during a meeting at the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia, Oct. 20, 2015.
    Russian President Vladimir Putin, right, shakes hands with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad during a meeting at the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia, Oct. 20, 2015.

    With Russian support, Assad’s forces have made significant gains. Analysts say the government has little incentive to negotiate with an opposition that is weak and fractured.

    Even with the opposition joining the talks, analysts are pessimistic. Nadim Shehadi, director of the Fares Center at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy in Boston, sees little chance of success.

    “We are pressuring the opposition to prove that they are united, coherent, that they have a strong leadership and that they have a vision and a policy and a certain consensus on what the future will be, and I don’t think they do," he said. "I don’t think they will in the near future, and I don’t think they can.”

    The talks had been set to begin on January 25, but discussions about who should represent the opposition delayed them to Friday.

    WATCH: Syrian Civil War explained

    Explainer: The Syrian Civil Wari
    X
    November 04, 2015 4:14 PM
    How did the crisis in Syria evolve and who are the key players? This short video gives you the basic facts about the ongoing civil war.

    You May Like

    Hope Remains for Rio Olympic Games

    Facing a host of problems, Rio prepares for holding the games but experts say some risks, like Zika, may not be as grave as initially thought

    IS Use of Social Media to Recruit, Radicalize Still a Top Threat to US

    Despite military gains against IS in Iraq and Syria, their internet propaganda still commands an audience; US officials see 'the most complex challenge that the federal government and industry face'

    ‘Time Is Now’ to Save Africa’s Animals From Poachers, Activist Says

    During Zimbabwe visit, African Wildlife Foundation President Kaddu Sebunya says poaching hurts Africa as slave trade once did

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: PermReader
    January 30, 2016 7:11 AM
    Next farce! Obama`s impotent policy in Syria becomes dangerous for ME, were the law of the jungle rules.

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Ivorian Chocolate Makers Promote Locally-made Chocolatei
    X
    July 29, 2016 4:02 PM
    Ivory Coast is the world's top producer of cocoa but hardly any of it is processed into chocolate there. Instead, the cocoa is sent abroad to chocolate makers in Europe and elsewhere. This is a general problem throughout Africa – massive exports of raw materials but few finished goods. As Emilie Iob reports from Abidjan, several Ivorian entrepreneurs are working to change that formula - 100 percent Ivorian chocolate bar at a time.
    Video

    Video Ivorian Chocolate Makers Promote Locally-made Chocolate

    Ivory Coast is the world's top producer of cocoa but hardly any of it is processed into chocolate there. Instead, the cocoa is sent abroad to chocolate makers in Europe and elsewhere. This is a general problem throughout Africa – massive exports of raw materials but few finished goods. As Emilie Iob reports from Abidjan, several Ivorian entrepreneurs are working to change that formula - 100 percent Ivorian chocolate bar at a time.
    Video

    Video Tesla Opens Battery-Producing Gigafactory

    Two years after starting to produce electric cars, U.S. car maker Tesla Motors has opened the first part of its huge battery manufacturing plant, which will eventually cover more than a square kilometer. Situated close to Reno, Nevada, the so-called Gigafactory will eventually produce more lithium-ion batteries than were made worldwide in 2013. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Polio-affected Afghan Student Fulfilling Her Dreams in America

    Afghanistan is one of only two countries in the world where children still get infected by polio. The other is Pakistan. Mahbooba Akhtarzada who is from Afghanistan, was disabled by polio, but has managed to overcome the obstacles caused by this crippling disease. VOA's Zheela Nasari caught up with Akhtarzada and brings us this report narrated by Bronwyn Benito.
    Video

    Video Hillary Clinton Promises to Build a 'Better Tomorrow'

    Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton urged voters Thursday not to give in to the politics of fear. She vowed to unite the country and move it forward if elected in November. Clinton formally accepted the Democratic Party's nomination at its national convention in Philadelphia. VOA national correspondent Jim Malone has more.
    Video

    Video Trump Tones Down Praise for Russia

    Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump is toning down his compliments for Russia and Vladimir Putin as such rhetoric got him in trouble recently. After calling on Russia to find 30.000 missing emails from rival Hillary Clinton, Trump told reporters he doesn't know Putin and never called him a great leader, just one who's better than President Barack Obama. Putin has welcomed Trump's overtures, but, as Zlatica Hoke reports, ordinary Russians say they are not putting much faith in Trump.
    Video

    Video Uganda Unveils its First Solar-powered Bus

    A solar-powered bus described by its Ugandan makers as the first in Africa has made its public debut. Kiira Motors' electric bus, Kayoola, displayed recently at a stadium in Uganda's capital. From Kampala, Maurice Magorane filed this report narrated by Salem Solomon.
    Video

    Video Silicon Valley: More Than A Place, It's a Culture

    Silicon Valley is a technology powerhouse and a place that companies such as Google, Facebook and Apple call home. It is a region in northern California that stretches from San Francisco to San Jose. But, more than that, it's known for its startup culture. VOA's Elizabeth Lee went inside one company to find out what it's like to work in a startup.
    Video

    Video Immigrant Delegate Marvels at Democratic Process

    It’s been a bitter and divisive election season – but first time Indian-American delegate Dr. Shashi Gupta headed to the Democratic National Convention with a sense of hope. VOA’s Katherine Gypson followed this immigrant with the love of U.S. politics all the way to Philadelphia.
    Video

    Video Dutch Entrepreneurs Turn Rainwater Into Beer

    June has been recorded as one of the wettest months in more than a century in many parts of Europe. To a group of entrepreneurs in Amsterdam the rain came as a blessing, as they used the extra water to brew beer. Serginho Roosblad has more to the story.
    Video

    Video Commerce Thrives on US-Mexico Border

    At the Democratic Convention in Philadelphia this week, the party’s presumptive presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton, is expected to attack proposals made by her opponent, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Last Friday, President Barack Obama hosted his Mexican counterpart, President Enrique Peña Nieto, to underscore the good relations between the two countries. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Tucson.
    Video

    Video Film Helps Save Ethiopian Children Thought to be Cursed

    'Omo Child' looks at effort of African man to stop killings of ‘mingi’ children
    Video

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora