The Syria talks in Vienna, as seen from Greece


Thomas Nikolaou

in ISKRA, November 1, 2015

November 5, 2015

Translated from Greek by Tom Winter

Original title: 

In the wake of the international meeting on the Syrian crisis

One month after the start of Russian airstrikes, representatives of the UN, the EU and 17 countries (USA, UK, Germany, France, Italy, Russia, China, Iran, Iraq, Egypt, Lebanon , Jordan, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and UAE) met in Vienna with the aim of finding a solution to the Syrian crisis.

Syria was not represented at the meeting Friday (30/10). However, the presence of Iran at the negotiating table, after years of diplomatic isolation, gave a slight dynamic to the side of Assad.

The partial cession from the side of the West, [for Assad] to remain in power, even for a short transition period before elections, indicates the weakness of its strategy in the blazing chessboard of the Middle East.

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Inasmuch as the US financed the Syrian opposition, from whose ranks ISIS emerged, they failed to calculate the consequent dynamics. Its rapid spread highlighted the sociological problem of a region where religious obscurantism holds sway, and highlighted the powerlessness of the states over developments, and more to the point, of their armies to fight.

A result of the talks in Vienna, the participant countries agreed that free elections should be held, with the participation of war refugees, but the debate did not settle on an exact date.

This decision, until it is overturned, troubles the Syrian opposition, perhaps because they realize they enjoy more support from their allies outside the country than from inside it.

Russia’s decision to get involved militarily, bombing targets of the Islamic State, appears to have raised the diplomatic priority for a solution in the region. However, it cannot be the hub for addressing the fundamental crisis.

Furthermore, the sixth paragraph of the Declaration stated that all participants agree on the need to tackle the Islamic State. However the instruments that have been used until now have simply had limited effect, without managing decisive blows that would lead to the final defeat.

Finally, all participants declare that the main objective is to keep Syria united, independent, territorially integral, and to ensure its secularism. Although the implementation of this objective looks more like wishful thinking given the circumstances, let’s wait and see how the discussion evolves at the next session, which is scheduled in two weeks.

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