Over the past week, there has been much reporting about the extension of limited UK military action against ISIS/ Daesh from Iraq into Syria. There has been less on the efforts that the UK government is making, along with our international partners, in seeking a negotiated peace in Syria. Since 2012, there has been a political strand to efforts to end the violence in Syria, when there was a meeting at the United Nations in Geneva that produced a communiqué calling for a ceasefire, negotiations and a transitional government, and elections.
The Geneva Communiqué has formed the basis for negotiations since then but it has always been plagued by differences over who should form the transitional government and who should negotiate with whom.
The latest meetings took place in October and November in Vienna, with the inclusion of Iran for the first time. This development results largely from the success of Iran’s negotiations with the world powers over its nuclear programme. On the ground, the dynamics have also changed, with Russia taking direct military action and Iran more deeply committed.
Together with a series of ISIS-linked terrorist attacks outside Syria, the latest being in Paris, these factors are giving the talks a new and different impetus, but the negotiations did not include any Syrians. The outside forces at the talks remain divided over the fate of Bashar al-Assad, which rebel groups constitute the legitimate opposition and which are terrorists. Even with those questions agreed, getting Syrians to support a political process would be difficult. However, the fact that nations who have not entered into dialogue for many years are now committed to a negotiated solution in Syria is I believe, a step in the right direction.
I will be regularly updating the blog on my website with progress.
Update – Here is a link to a useful briefing paper written by the House of Commons Library that sets out the actions being taken in seeking a negotiated solution in Syria: http://researchbriefings.files.parliament.uk/documents/CBP-7392/CBP-7392.pdf
Update – 16th November – Yesterday in Parliament, the Foreign Secretary made a statement about Syria. Please follow this link to the Hansard report of the statement and subsequent question and answer session. http://bit.ly/1m9BziP
Published by West Briton.