MESOP NEWS Syria Daily: Geneva Talks Collapse Amid Regime Refusal of Direct Negotiations

By  Scott Lucas – December 15, 2017 – US Accuses Assad Regime of Helping ISIS –  Talks in Geneva to resolve Syria’s 81-month conflict collapsed on Thursday, as the Assad regime maintained its refusal to talk directly with the opposition.The head of the regime’s delegation, UN Ambassador Bashar al-Ja’afari, repeated the rejection after a meeting with UN envoy Staffan Mistura. Ja’afari also tried to bury any mention of the future of Bashar al-Assad through his assertion that “most of the sessions of the current round in Geneva focused on the need to cancel the…Riyadh 2 statement” of the opposition.

Ja’afari claimed, “We do not put preconditions, but we object to the preconditions.”

The ambassador also renewed criticism of De Mistura’s handling of the process, deriding the envoy’s call on Russian Vladimir Putin on Wednesday to “have the courage” to press the regime: “His statement undermined his mandate as a facilitator of the talks, which will affect the entire Geneva process.”Asserting that De Mistura’s role as mediator would be reviewed, Ja’afari declared, “Nobody can exert pressure on us.”De Mistura pinned the blame for the breakdown on the regime group, saying it was not “really looking to find a way to have a dialogue”. He said “negotiations in reality did not take place” and a “golden opportunity [was] missed”.

The envoy opened the latest set of Geneva discussions on November 26. The regime delegation delayed its arrival for 24 hours and then walked out after only three days, protesting at any mention of Bashar al-Assad’s future.The group, led by UN Ambassador Bashar al-Ja’afari, returned to Geneva last Sunday, but there was no advance on the four areas of discussion: governance, a new Constitution, elections, and “fighting terrorism”.

De Mistura said he planned to convene another round of talks in Geneva in January but needed an infusion of new ideas and will sound out major powers when he briefs the UN Security Council on Tuesday.

US Accuses Assad Regime of Helping ISIS

The US military has accused the Assad regime of assisting the movement of Islamic State fighters, despite proclamations by both the regime and Russia that ISIS has been defeated in Syria.A spokesman for US-led coalition operations issued the declaration after a reported confrontation with ISIS members inside the US exclusion zone around its Tanf base on the Iraq and Jordan borders.Opposition activists and rebels have also accused the Assad regime of assistance to Islamic State units by allowing them to move through eastern Hama Province for attacks on opposition territory.Meanwhile, ISIS has captured a string of regime-held villages west of the Euphrates River in Deir ez-Zor Province, only weeks after supposedly being vanquished throughout eastern Syria by a combination of pro-Assad and Kurdish-led offensives.The Islamic State appeared to be enabled by the transfer of pro-Assad forces from Deir ez-Zor Province to northwest Syria, apparently in preparation for an assault on opposition areas.