MESOP Syria Daily: Envoy — I Can No Longer Count on UN Resolutions for “Peace”

January 22 – by Scott Lucas – eaworldview – The UN’s envoy for Syria, Staffan de Mistura, has told the Security Council that he can no longer count on its “ambiguous” resolutions for a political resolution.De Mistura’s remarks to a closed-door Council session on Monday began circulating last night on the Internet. Issued only a month after the latest Council resolution, they confirm the doubts that opposition-regime talks, which international powers have scheduled for January 25 in Geneva, will take place.

As an immediate obstacle, the envoy cites both disagreement over the substance of the discussions and the list of those who can represent the opposition.

Last month a 33-member opposition-rebel negotiating team was established at a conference in Riyadh. Russia and Iran, backing the Assad regime, have insisted that certain rebel factions must be excluded as “terrorist”. Kurdish groups have objected that they were not involved.

Trying to block the opposition-rebel movement, Moscow has issued an alternative list of 15 names of domestic figures and Kurdish representatives.

De Mistura also pointed to the UN’s failure to fulfil its resolution for an end to sieges on civilians. He notes that the UN has reached only 4% of the areas, and that the Assad regime did not answer 80 of 113 requests made for access in 2015.

Referring to the UN’s call for ceasefires, the envoy proposes no substantive steps towards “monitoring, verification and reporting”, merely saying, “To move fast in the event of a cessation of hostilities or, better still, a ceasefire, we will also need to draw upon the expertise, skills and contributions of the international community”:

What I am now asking for is acts of good will which demonstrate seriousness about this process. The success of Syrian and non-Syrian actors in meeting this minimum, but significant step, will be a small indication as to whether the talks stand a chance to be meaningful for those who suffer on the ground– not just another gathering in Geneva.

De Mistura concludes with a hint that the January 25 discussions will not occur and may not be rescheduled: “Talks are important to keep the ‘Vienna momentum’ [international discussions in November-December], but not at any cost.”