MESOP NEWS : THE HELPLESS UN TRIES TO PRESS PUTIN – UN’s De Mistura to Russia — Get Assad Regime to Negotiate


By Scott Lucas – eaworldview – December 14, 2017  – UN envoy Staffan de Mistura has pressed Russia to bring the Assad regime into meaningful negotiations over Syria’s 81-month conflict.De Mistura warned on Wednesday that failure of talks in Geneva could lead to “a fragmentation of Syria”. Asked what signal Russian President Vladimir Putin — who declared “victory” in a visit to western Syria on Monday — could offer, he said:

Convince the [Syrian] government that there is no time to lose….You can think you win territory militarily but you have to win the peace.

And to win the peace, you have to have the courage to push the government to accept that there has to be a new constitution and new elections, through the United Nations.

De Mistura 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 is little indication of any advance on the four areas of discussion: governance, a new Constitution, elections, and “fighting terrorism”. The opposition High Negotiations Committee said on Tuesday that the regime is refusing to enter into direct talks.

De Mistura confirmed yesterday, “The government is not ready, it has said it is not ready to meet the opposition. That is regrettable but diplomacy has many means.”

Russia has said that it will convene a “national congress” among Syrian groups, but the initiative has been repeatedly delayed, in part because of Turkish objections to the presence of leading Kurdish factions such as the Syrian Kurdistan Democratic Party (PYD). The meeting is now vaguely scheduled for “early 2018”.

Meanwhile, despite Putin’s declaration of a partial withdrawal of Russian forces in his “victory” speech on Monday, Moscow is bolstering its permanent presence with plans to extend the naval base at Tartous on the Mediterranean. Russia is also continuing airstrikes in support of pro-Assad attacks on opposition territory, despite proclaiming “de-escalation zones” throughout Syria.