Syria talks in Geneva put on hold

The Syria talks in Geneva were postponed without results on Thursday. UN special envoy Staffan de Mistura set a three-week pause in the negotiations and called for more commitment on the part of the participants. Commentators see little chance of the talks getting out of their current impasse.

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Dagens Nyheter (SE) /

Peace not possible with Putin

The prospects of peace in Syria have become even more remote since Russia joined the fighting, the liberal daily Dagens Nyheter sighs:

“With Russia backing them up the Syria government troops have gone on the offensive again, bolstered by Iranian elite soldiers and Iraqi Shiite militias. ... North of Aleppo Assad has cut off the supply routes to the part of the city controlled by the rebels, paving the way for another humanitarian catastrophe. ... In this situation Assad has no incentive to negotiate. Russia is bombing civilians while at the same time doing the least for refugees and providing the lowest amount of humanitarian aid. It's time to bid farewell to the illusion that Russia wants to play a positive role in Syria or help reach a political solution. The only one Putin wants to keep alive is the butcher himself.”

Der Standard (AT) /

Concessions to Syrian rebels necessary

A resumption of the Syria talks in Geneva only makes sense if Russia and the US agree to make concessions to the Syrian rebels, the centre-left daily Der Standard points out:

“It was clear that at the very least, humanitarian concessions must be made to the Syrian rebels, who are losing ground to the Russian and Iranian-backed Assad regime. If the goal of the talks - Assad's departure - isn't precisely defined they must at least have something to show 'on the ground'. But beyond advancing the negotiations the rebels urgently need help for other reasons too. By suspending the talks Staffan de Mistura, who didn't want the UN to be responsible for the unfair situation, has put the ball back in Washington and Moscow's court. Foreign ministers John Kerry and Sergey Lavrov will have to get their act together at the Munich Security Conference. If Russia really wants 'Geneva 3' - and it does - it must allow fair terms.”

Radikal (TR) /

Europeans marvel at Syrian-Kurdish democracy

Brett McGurk, US President Barack Obama's Special Envoy for the anti-IS coalition, visited the Kurdish-controlled areas in northern Syria with European diplomats on the weekend. Although the Syrian Kurdish party PYD is not at the negotiating table in Geneva it is being given special attention by the West, the liberal Internet paper Radikal comments:

“With this visit the US has underscored the importance of the Kurds in the fight against the IS and given this relationship a political dimension with a joint meeting of all players responsible for the autonomy in Rojava. ... Among European intellectuals the model presented in Rojava is being discussed as a kind of 'stateless democracy'. The excluded, terrorised Kurds have managed to interact with political, social and intellectual circles in Europe. Thanks to their networks they have been able to present Rojava as their own model. And this rhetoric is being remarkably well received there.”

Star (TR) /

Even bloodier phase almost inevitable

At the Syria conference anything but a solution is in sight, the pro-government daily Star criticises:

“The attitude that only diplomacy should be used implies a 'diplomatic excess', and combined with the indecisiveness of the US and Russia's 'lack of policy' the regional crisis threatens to turn into a gangrenous wound. The Syrian opposition with its severe political incompetence is worsening the gangrene and ensuring that the Syrian crisis won't even be eased. On the contrary, a new, even bloodier phase now seems inevitable, with other regional players being caught up in the process. What else can be expected in view of the goings-on in Geneva?”

Deutschlandfunk (DE) /

A Sisyphean task

Despite the decision of the High Negotiations Committee to attend the talks after all there is little chance of success, the public broadcaster Deutschlandfunk believes:

“It's not just the delegations that have come to Geneva with a subjective agenda: also their backers and the states that lend political and military support to the Assad regime and its opponents are playing power games behind the scenes. So scepticism is more than justified. Only when the Syrian parties come to the realisation that the bloodbath and destruction must and can finally be stopped will the long-term solution envisaged by the UN Security Council be implemented: a transitional government, a new constitution and fresh elections. But for now that is just a dream. Before that the harsh reality, stubbornness, hatred and the belief that there can be a military solution to the war must be overcome. A Sisyphean task.”

Zaman (TR) /

Talks start with little hope of success

The Syria talks threaten to repeat the failure of the 2014 Geneva conference, the Islamic-conservative daily Zaman believes: "The second Geneva talks which began two years ago amid great hopes and whose goals - ending the war, forming a transitional government and adopting a new constitution - were supported by practically all sides, were nevertheless unsuccessful. The unbending stance of the delegation sent by the Syrian regime on the question of a transitional government - which would have forced President Bashar al-Assad to give up his office - virtually brought the negotiations to a standstill. ... The sense of hopelessness and the pessimistic atmosphere left by the second Syria conference will make it practically impossible for the current conference to be a success.

More opinions

Der Standard (AT) / 01 February 2016
  Syria's future won't be decided in Geneva (in German)