The opening statements of Syrian peace talks which I mentioned in my post on Wednesday alluded to bumpy roads ahead. It turns out “bumpy” might have been an understatement.
Geneva II was almost steered right off a cliff before gaining any momentum. The Syrian opposition and the Syrian Government were refusing to meet face-to-face. Syrian opposition demanded the Government agree to the June 30, 2012 Geneva communiqué, which called for a transitional government body put into place, and that Assad step down from power. In response, Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Muallem denounced the idea of Assad’s removal as the perquisites for discussions.
But in a sudden turn of events, United Nations and Arab League mediator Lakhdar Brahimi worked his magic and announced both sides have agreed to the Geneva communiqué and will continue negotiations. Still, there is no settlement on whether or not Assad will leave his office.
Now cooperation needs to be fostered. A focus on humanitarian issues could build the foundation to a working relationship between the opposition and Government. There are millions of Syrians in need of food, medicine, and shelter. For them, the negotiators must find real, effective solutions.