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Prolonging the agony in Syria

Nov 28,2017 - Last updated at Nov 28,2017

The meeting of the leaders of Russia, Iran and Turkey in Sochi last week is generally viewed as having drawn the blueprint for a political solution for the seven-year-old Syrian conflict.

Russian President Vladimir Putin, his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani no doubt now want to capitalise on the gains against opposition forces in the war in Syria, and against Daesh, in the war against terrorists, but to do that, they need to draw a master plan that makes sure that they enjoy the fruit of their involvement in the bloody conflict in this Arab country.

They had to work hard to convince the opposition that it was time to cut losses and negotiate a settlement with the regime of President Bashar Assad.

Putin had met before Sochi with Assad, assumedly to win support for a political solution based on relevant UN resolutions, including conducting elections under UN supervision, and to announce an end to the Russian military involvement in the country.

At Sochi, the three leaders expressed support for Syria’s territorial integrity and for a transitional period leading up to a final political settlement of the conflict. 

The Sochi summit drew guidance from the Astana peace talks on Syria, as well as from the talks conducted in Geneva under UN auspices.

Yet, there is a hitch in all the preparatory meetings for a politically negotiated process.

The Riyadh meeting of the various Syrian opposition groups, which convened after the Sochi summit, came out with a communiqué that may dash hopes for a successful negotiation process for Syria, as it called for the removal of the Syrian president from power at the early stage of negotiations and for the withdrawal from Syria of militias supported by Iran.

Tehran has refused to comply with this demand, insisting that Iran’s military is present in Syria at the request of the legitimate Syrian government. 

Putin may have miscalculated by thinking that the opposition would soften its hardline stand due to its weakened military position in Syria.

This is a critical juncture in the search for a political solution for Syria.

 

It is time fighting Syrians came to the realisation that they are being manipulated by foreign powers with interest in their country and reach some agreement before Syria unravels under their very eyes.

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