A sad disconnect from reality on Syria

ABU DHABI, 30th January 2016 (WAM) – It is shocking that as the people of Syria continue to suffer the worst humanitarian crisis of our generation, their bitterly divided leaders see no reason to end the civil war, a United Arab Emirates newspaper has said.

In a commentary published today, the English language daily ‘Gulf News’ said the first serious attempt in two years to get Syrian peace talks underway looks set for failure, as the opposition’s High Negotiations Committee has said that it will not attend because its preconditions of lifting sieges and stopping air strikes have not been met and they want more details on how the talks will be managed, despite months of preparation by the long-suffering United Nations Special Envoy Staffan de Mistura.

“The problem is that even if some of the many sides in the war might attend the talks, neither side has any real reason to end the fighting. The government is happy to go along with the talks, but it is now winning territory on the ground with its Russian and Iranian allies, and so it feels that it does not need to negotiate anything at this stage, particularly as part of the discussion will be on how to remove its leader, President Bashar Al Assad. Its recent victories in Deraa in the south and Latakia in the north have given it renewed confidence that it can fight its way to victory,” the paper said.

It went on to say that the opposition includes the main armed groups fighting in western Syria, which includes the Islamist Jaish Al Islam and several of the Free Syrian Army factions that have received support from states, including Saudi Arabia and the United States, and it is not clear if their military alliance has widened to include any joint political aim for what they want for Syria’s ultimate future.

A further disconnect from the reality on the ground is that the Syrian Kurds were not invited to the talks under Turkish pressure, despite being one of the more coherent and successful forces on the ground.

The paper concluded by saying: “While the opposition factions and the government are fighting in the west of Syria, the Kurds dominate the far north and Daesh (the self-proclaimed Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant) has taken the east.”