MESOP TODAYS : Arguments & Analysis / THE PKK & GENEVE

“A Syrian Tempest in the Geneva Teapot” (By Aron Lund, The Century Foundation)

“Syrian opposition politics has long been a game operating under its own laws, which have very little to do with the military capacity or membership numbers of any participant faction. Much of this game plays out in the media for symbolic effect and public consumption, rather than on the ground in the country. The great-power diplomacy surrounding the Geneva talks has further complicated the situation. Since there is no autonomous, effective, and indigenous Syrian rebel leadership able to select its own representatives, foreign states have taken it upon themselves to suggest negotiators.

A variety of governments are jostling to select opposition representatives to the talks, while the Syrian factions themselves court foreign support to assure themselves of a seat at the table. Turkey’s role in barring the most powerful Kurdish faction from formal attendance at Geneva has already been mentioned. Western and Arab states have promoted their favorite dissidents inside the HNC, which they have fought to preserve as the only official opposition delegation. Conversely, Russia and Iran have sought to undermine the HNC’s centrality by packing the talks with as many alternate factions as possible. In his attempts to navigate these countervailing pressures, de Mistura has brought numerous non-HNC dissidents into the Geneva process as ”consultants,” thereby sidestepping Security Council and great-power restrictions on who can be named a formal delegate.” Read all