Syrian peace talks stall before they start

Kettlemag Kirstie Keate Syrian peace talks stall
Written by kirstiekeate

The first Syrian peace talks for two years that were scheduled to begin today, have stalled over who will represent President Bashar al-Assad’s opponents.

Due to be held in Geneva, there has been international disagreement over who should be invited from al-Assad’s opposition who are demanding, amongst other things, an end to air strikes, a release of detainees and an end to government territorial seizures and blockades such as those seen earlier this month in Madayar where 40,000 people were at risk until UN aid was allowed through.

Russian requirements

Russia, who supports al-Assad, has said it opposes all Syrian anti-government groups attending the talks, referring to them as terrorists. It supports the attendance of the Kurds, who control areas in northern Syria and have been providing the US with intelligence to fight IS. However, Turkey, which borders northern Iraq and northern Syria, oppose inviting the Kurds because of the current Kurdish-Turkish conflict where Kurds are demanding separation from Turkey and increased autonomy.

To complicate matters further, Sunni Arab groups, who are supported by Arab governments and the West, are refusing to attend unless they can chose their own delegation.

Third attempt

These peace talks would be the third attempt at securing peace in the region as the current civil war rumbles into its fifth year. Previous talks have failed with al-Assad’s opponents refusing to back down from their demand that he be removed from power.

Peace in Syria is seen as of prime importance in defeating IS and bringing an end to their terrorist activities as a report from Europol, the EU police agency, today claims IS and other militants are highly likely to mount further large scale attacks on Europe.

Key facts

  • The Syrian Civil war began in spring 2011 as opposition to President al-Assad’s regime.
  • So far approximately 250,000 people have died and millions have fled their homes, leading to the current European refugee crisis and increased instability in the area.
  • The civil war has smoothed the way for IS to declare a caliphate across vast areas of Iraq and Syria, which in turn has led to airstrikes across the territories from various world powers keen to destroy the terrorist organisation and in retaliation for attacks such as those seen in France last year.