Syria asks: Where is America? The UN’s Syrian peace talks end with limited success
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Not much progress was made during the UN’s latest Syrian peace talks, which came to a close on Friday, March 3rd.
Though the peace talks were slow moving, according to BBC, the Syrian peace talks ended on a more positive note than previously. This round of peace talks is the fourth time that the UN met to discuss the Syrian war according to BBC News.
The civil war in Syria has been going on for six years. In 2011, protests about freedom and economy broke out, and after the killing of a 13-year old boy in a peaceful protest, citizens from the military created a rebel group to overthrow the government, thus kickstarting the Syrian civil war.
Although the Syrian government and opposition groups failed to meet face-to-face yet again, they both held victories and agreements that caused UN leaders to leave them with hope. Nasr al-Hariri, the opposition’s negotiator in Geneva, said that “while it remains our [UN’s] goal to secure an agreement to move to direct negotiations between the government and the opposition, there is a moment in fact when it is more effective to have a proxy meeting like we have had this time.”
The UN mediator, Staffan de Mistura, has told The New York Times that the warring parties now have an agreed upon a plan to create a political solution to the conflict. He said that the specific strategy for fighting terrorism—“counter-terrorism, security governance and also medium-term confidence-building measures”—would be discussed in the future, and hopefully in person.
According to Reuters, the lead Syrian opposition negotiator of the peace talks blamed the Obama administration, saying that "Obama lied and he didn’t keep any of the promises he made for the Syrian people. He drew red lines that he erased himself, he kept silent on crimes committed by Bashar al-Assad.”
The Trump administration is in the process of restating the government’s approach to Syria. According to The New York Times, it is not clear how different Trump’s approach will be from Obama’s. Karen DeYoung reports that the Trump administration may want more troops on the ground to carry out the battle. Kenneth Roth, the executive director of Human Rights Watch, said over the weekend that, “It is incumbent on all of us to step forward while the U.S. is in disarray."
“Our aim now is to continue with the political process to show Mr. Trump we are serious about a relationship, about a political solution and about limiting the role of Iran,” said Nasr al-Hariri, head of the Syrian opposition delegation. “But if the U.S. vacuum continues, I think Mr. de Mistura will face a lot of obstacles on the way to a political solution.”
The fifth round of Syrian peace talks will resume in a few weeks according to Reuters, and the UN hopes to improve humanitarian access and continue with the ceasefire.