Today’s Syria Daily: Geneva II — No Advance Despite Brahimi’s “Tons of Patience”

By Scott Lucas February 12, 2014 07:18 Updated – eaworldviewOpposition Delegation Adds Representatives From Insurgency

There was no advance on Tuesday in the Geneva II talks on Syria, despite United Nations envoy Lakhdar Brahimi’s declaration of his “tons of patience”.The opposition and Assad delegations could not even agree on points for an agenda, with the opposition insisting on priority for a transitional governing authority and regime officials declaring that the fight against “terrorism” had to be first.

Brahimi said the second round of discussions, which began on Monday, were “laborious”. “We are not making much progress,” he said, although he added that he had “tons of patience”.

The UN envoy proposed to the delegations that they discuss ending the violence on Tuesday and move to formation of a transitional governing body on Wednesday.

Today was another lost day because the representatives of the Coalition insisted that there is no terrorism in Syria,” Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal Maqdad said.

Senior Assad advisor Bouthaina Shaaban asserted that the opposition refused to “acknowledge that there is terrorism in Syria”, as “the only thing they want to discuss is the transitional government.”

Opposition spokesman Louay Safi responded, “It is obvious the regime is stalling and still believes in a military solution.”

Meanwhile, limited aid efforts in the Old City of Homs, which has become a touchstone for the possibility of humanitarian advance out of the discussions, were suspended for “logistical and technical reasons”.

Homs Governor Talal al-Barazi said the aid mission would resume on Wednesday.

More than two weeks ago, Brahimi set aid into Homs, as well as evacuation of civilians, as a marker for progress in the Geneva II talks. At least 900 people were finally moved from the Old City last weekend, but the effort was hindered by firing on United Nations vehicles, killing five civilians and restricting aid deliveries.

The UN envoy insisted on Tuesday that the initiative had been a “success”, even though it was only a “small step” and aid had not been agreed for other besieged towns and cities.

Opposition Delegation Adds Representatives From Insurgency

A seven-member “military and security” team has joined members of the Syrian National Coalition at the Geneva II talks.

The team include the Syrian Revolutionaires Front, led by Jamal Maarouf, insurgents from Daraa Province in southern Syria, and defectors from the regime’s security services.

The Islamic Front, the largest insurgent bloc, is not represented.

“No one has a monopoly on the armed struggle. The Islamic Front has a problem with Geneva and we respect that. They are welcome to join us,” opposition spokesman Anas al-Abdah said.