Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Syrian Mediation

This week, a second round in the fragile peace talks resumed in Geneva between Syria’s government and opposition representatives. United Nations mediator, Lakhdar Brahimi, has reportedly maintained a cautious style, structuring meetings with opposition delegates of armed groups fighting in Syria, and later with the Assad government. Interestingly, the UN mediator presented both sides with a memorandum ahead of the mediation, proposing four main principles for dialogue: ending the violence and fighting terrorism; forming a transitional governing body; defining the relationship between the government and security services; and starting some form of national reconciliation. This time, Mr. Brahimi has apparently avoided bringing the warring parties together face to face, to avoid some rancorous exchanges that occurred during prior direct meetings. Rather, it is said he desires to keep the best chance of progress on confidence-building measures previously proposed, including cease-fires and prisoner exchanges. Meanwhile, humanitarian agencies have been evacuating civilians trapped for two years in the Old City of Homs and delivering food and medicines to those remaining during an extended cease-fire there. Additionally, the international effort to destroy Syrian chemical weapons has stalled with recent deadlines missed. Later this week, Mr. Brahimi meets Russia's Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs and US Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs, hopefully having made more progress. See story here-- http://nyti.ms/1fe1xaa