Syria talks hang in the balance

The main Syrian opposition coalition the High Negotiations Committee plans to boycott the peace talks in Geneva until its humanitarian demands are met. Are the talks doomed to fail?

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The Guardian (GB) /

West must not abandon Syrian opposition

The West should show more solidarity with the main Syrian opposition bloc, the left-liberal daily The Guardian writes in view of its announcement that it won't take part in the Geneva peace talks:

“After the setbacks it has recently endured, it must seem easy to pressure the opposition. But the proper place for pressure is on Mr Assad’s backers in Moscow and Tehran. Washington seems to believe that Russia will ultimately back a settlement in Syria that would sideline Mr Assad and that its cooperation must be sought under any circumstance. Yet Russia has so far appeared to be more intent on undermining talks than on enabling them. ... Talks for the sake of talks may give an illusion of progress but they come at a high price for Syrians, and western security too.”

Hürriyet Daily News (TR) /

Turkey's Kurdish problem far from over

The head of the Syrian-Kurdish PYD party, Salih Muslim, has not been invited to take part in the Syria conference after Turkey threatened to boycott the meeting if he was. But Ankara has scored only a temporary victory, the liberal daily Hürriyet Daily News believes:

“The shape Syria takes in the future will to be determined by the fighting on the ground. This means the Syrian army will continue to advance against the opposition with Russian air support, while the YPG continues to advance against ISIL with U.S. air support. The last points reached by the Syrian regime and the Kurds will determine the lines of demarcation between the warring sides at the peace table. In other words, Turkey’s nightmare of seeing an autonomous Kurdish region along its Syrian border, controlled by U.S. and Russian backed factions that it opposes, is far from over yet.”

Tages-Anzeiger (CH) /

Islamists must take part in Syria talks

A solution for war-torn Syria won't be possible if Islamist groups are excluded from the negotiations, the centre-left daily Tages-Anzeiger believes:

“They are unsavoury partners both ideologically and regarding human rights and international law, Moscow's right there. However if those were the sole criteria the Assad regime too would have long since disqualified itself as a negotiating partner. It stresses its legitimacy at the same time as it bombards its own population. The Islamists have tens of thousands of fighters in Syria. Excluding them would mean any ceasefire was doomed from the start. However this war can't be won militarily. That should be clear even to Moscow by now.”

Radikal (TR) /

Ankara losing all credibility

If Turkey goes on blocking the peace talks people will stop believing that it really wants to fight the IS militia, the liberal online portal Radikal argues:

“If a ceasefire were achieved all parties could refocus their fighting on targeting the IS, and in that way start to tackle the problem. In the current situation all parties - the Syrian regime, Russia, Iran, the [Shia] Hezbollah, the Syrian opposition, the [Kurdish] PYD, Turkey and the US - must fight the IS together. With the exception of Turkey all of these parties accept this equation. But as long as Turkey continues to oppose it, it will convince no one that it really does want to stop the bloodshed and sees the IS as a terrorist organisation.”

More opinions

Tages-Anzeiger (CH) / 29 January 2016
  Ceasefire not a priority for anyone in Syria talks (in German)
Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (DE) / 25 January 2016
  Syria the showplace of the new East-West conflict (in German)