کد خبر: ۷۶۷۸۶۷
تاریخ انتشار: ۰۵ بهمن ۱۳۹۶ - ۰۹:۳۵ 25 January 2018

Bottom Line: Multiple rounds of peace talks aimed at ending Syria’s seven-year civil war have failed to yield results or relieve a catastrophic humanitarian crisis throughout the country. While the Trump administration throws its support behind a United Nations-led process that aims to deliver a roadmap for peace, Russia has organized its own negotiating track that threatens to upend the U.N. effort. Nonetheless, until both the Syrian government and the opposition are willing to entertain difficult concessions, neither of these efforts will succeed.

Background: There have been eight rounds of U.N.-sponsored peace talks since the Syrian civil war broke out in 2011. But bringing the warring factions to the negotiating table has proven extremely challenging.

The Syrian peace process was initiated by former Joint Special Envoy for the U.N. and the League of Arab States Kofi Annan in June 2012 in Geneva, in what became known as the Geneva I Conference on Syria. From that meeting, a communiqué was issued that called on all warring parties to impose a ceasefire, agree to guidelines and principles for a political transition, and implement a six-point peace plan that was introduced by Annan in April 2012.

The peace process gained little momentum, as the parties failed to adhere to a ceasefire or send delegations to negotiate face to face. A key sticking point was whether Syrian President Bashar al-Assad would remain in power. The Syrian National Coalition (SNC), the main representative body of opposition forces in Syria, maintains that the only way forward is for a transitional government to bring peace to Syria. But the regime says Assad’s future is not up for discussion.

The stalled negotiating efforts led the U.N. to sponsor a second conference in Geneva in January 2014, known as the Geneva II Conference on Syria. The second round of talks, which were spearheaded by U.N.-Arab League mediator Lakhdar Brahimi, once again concluded without progress, as several key elements of the opposition failed to attend.

In December 2015, the U.N. Security Council adopted resolution 2254, which serves as the basis for U.N.-led negotiations and the future political transition in Syria.

Geneva III and Geneva IV were held in February and April 2016, respectively, but were terminated soon after discussion began. Geneva V, VI and VII were held last year but also rapidly collapsed.

Representatives from the Syrian government and from the opposition finally met face-to-face for the first time in January 2017, during a separate set of peace talks sponsored by Russia, Turkey and Iran. They were held in Astana, Kazakhstan. Throughout last year, there were six rounds of Astana talks, but they produced no breakthrough.

In mid-November, Russian President Vladimir Putin hosted Assad in Sochi, during which Assad thanked the Russian military intervention for “saving Syria.” The meeting was immediately followed by a summit held by Russia, Turkey and Iran in Sochi. during which Putin, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani all agreed to sponsor a conference at the end of January aimed at achieving a peaceful settlement of the Syrian conflict. A joint statement released by the presidents “called on the representatives of the Government of the Syrian Arab Republic and the opposition that are committed to the sovereignty, independence, unity, territorial integrity and non-fractional character of the Syrian state to participate constructively in the Syrian national dialogue congress in Sochi in [the] near future.”

The eighth and most recent round of U.N.-sponsored talks in December once again ended without headway. The chief U.N. mediator, Staffan de Mistura, acknowledged that the Syrian government was not “really looking to find a way to have a dialogue,” and called it a “golden opportunity missed.” The ninth round of U.N. peace talks is scheduled for Jan. 25-26, which will be followed by the Russia-hosted talks in Sochi from Jan. 29-30.

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