Thursday, February 4, 2016

Syria Talks Stutter

Just days after Syrian talks in Geneva began to try and end five years of war, the United Nations mediator called for a temporary pause for three weeks due to differences between government and opposition delegations on the priority of humanitarian issues. UN Special Envoy Staffan de Mistura asked for an immediate implementation of a humanitarian initiative before substantive talks started. He stressed both sides insist they are interested in having the political process begin and set February 25th for the next session. Mediator de Mistura made clear he is under no illusions about the difficulties in ending a war that has killed over 250,000 people, sent over 4 million fleeing the country, displaced 6.5 million internally, and put 13.5 million people inside the country in urgent need of humanitarian aid. Reportedly, he expected posturing, walk-outs and disappointments. However, he was not frustrated, but rather determined, yet realistic. He emphasized the UN cannot allow simple procedural matters to "become more important than actually the results of humanitarian situation of the Syrian people who have been waiting for us to deliver this time, not a conference, but something concrete for them.” Talks between the sides are not face-to-face but indirect, with parties caucusing in different rooms. The International Syria Support Group (ISSG) comprising the Arab League, the European Union, the United Nations, and 17 countries including the United States and Russia, laid the groundwork for the Geneva talks at a meeting last fall. Hopefully, there will be progress to report later in the month. See more here from