Syria Daily: Geneva II — No Progress in Talks on Political Future (CLICK FOR VIDEO AT THE BOTTOM LINK)

By Scott Lucas January 28, 2014- Updated – eaworldview – Talks on Monday at the Geneva II conference made no progress on Syria’s political future, as the regime delegation evaded the call for President Assad’s departure with a document calling for the return of the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights, defending Syrian sovereignty, and declaring that Syria is already a democracy governed by the rule of law.

United Nations envoy Lakhdar Brahimi said after the Monday discussions, “There are no miracles here,” offering little more than the hope that “the Syrian brethren on both sides will think of their people”.

The opposition presented a copy of the “Geneva I” communiqué of June 2012 which called for a transitional governing authority, a cease-fire, humanitarian aid, and release of detainees, but the Assad delegation’s document swept that agenda aside.

Information Minister Omran al-Zoubi emphasized that the Assad delegation’s document made no reference to “the Presidency or the person of the President at all in any of the articles”. He said it “contained articles no two Syrians can disagree upon, no matter how much they differ or are far apart or fight among each other”:

Can we imagine that there is a Syrian who can disagree with another Syrian on the sovereignty of the Syrian Arab Republic, its territorial integrity, and the unity of its national soil, unless one of those who disagree isn’t Syrian, but an Israeli, for example?

Meanwhile, even the limited outcome from weekend talks appeared to be in trouble, as the opposition expressed scepticism about the regime’s offer for evacuation of women and children from besieged neighborhood in Homs.

The opposition delegation and local activists said the plan could be a scheme to allow Syrian forces to detain, abuse, and even kill the men remaining in the area. They noted that Damascus was still not accepting aid convoys into the neighborhoods, the opening position from Saturday’s indirect discussions.

Brahimi noted, “There is no decision [by the regime] to let them in.”

VIDEO: Senior Assad advisor Bouthaina Shaaban’s defiant interview with Al Jazeera English:

The US State Department spokesman in Geneva, Edgar Vasquez, supported the opposition:

It is a simple thing they can and must do, but so far they have refused to allow humanitarian convoys into the Old City. The armed fighters in the Old City have made clear that they will allow these convoys in. Thus, there should be no reason for delay. The regime must act now.

The Assad delegation has said that the question of aid must be considered for all Syrian cities. Vasquez countered by declaring that the regime’s “kneel or starve” policy had been applied throughout the country:

For example, in (the Damascus suburb of) Moadamiya, there was a limited evacuation but still no food aid or other humanitarian assistance. That cannot happen in Homs.