Sunday, January 27, 2013

Another international conference on Syria and the crisis goes on

Nearly 300 opposition leaders from inside and outside Syria will be attending the Syrian Conference for Democratic and Civilian State to be held Monday and Tuesday, 28th and 29th January, 2013 in the Starling Hotel Geneva. Organizers of the conference complained that many activists and opposition leaders from inside Syria were denied visas. They accused France of working to undermine the efforts of many opposition groups who are not represented in the so-called Syrian Coalition, which France recognized as the “sole and legitimate representative of the Syrian people.”

According to organizers, the “Conference aims to promote and encourage a real dialogue between the Syrian democratic opposition structures in an open dialogue about the violence consequences, the sectarian risks and the future of the democratic project. It will encourage cooperation, coordination and synergies between political parties, civil society and social movement inside Syria, and advance work towards a realistic transitional program, for a civil and democratic State in Syria.”


In addition to political pressure to keep opposition leaders out of the Geneva meeting, France hastily organized a meeting for the so-called Friends of Syria in Paris during the same period. This time however, the Friends of Syria meeting will take place amid disagreements among the supporters of the Syrian Coalition. France, who just intervened militarily in Mali, has accused Qatar of supporting the Salafi militants there.

Moreover, France is now re-assessing its old position concerning Syria. On Thursday, Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius declared that things are not going as expected. "Things are not moving. The solution that we had hoped for, and by that I mean the fall of Bashar and the arrival of the (opposition) coalition to power, has not happened," he said in his annual New Year's address to the press. In March 2011, Fabius himself told RFI radio in December that "the end is nearing" for Assad. On Thursday, he said that "there are no recent positive signs… France continues, like others, to try [to] find a solution so that Bashar is replaced and that a united Syria that respects all communities is achieved. However, we are far from it."

With new leadership in the Defense and State departments in the United States, the only consistent factors in the Syrian crisis remain to be Russia, China, and Iran. Recently, Russia declared that without a political solution, Syria’s civil war is likely to continue for another two years at least. Iran, where a new president will be elected this year, Ali Akbar Velayati, the adviser to the supreme leader and a potential presidential candidate, declared that an outside attack on Syria will be considered an attack on Iran. All these developments would mean that the bloodshed and suffering will continue for at least months if not years.

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