As a new round of talks gets under way in Geneva, Russia seeks to cement its military gains in favour of the Assad dictatorship by securing UN validation
One lesson of history is that peace plans are forged by the victors. Almost exactly a year after the fall of Aleppo, the last urban stronghold of the Syrian opposition, peace-making diplomacy is now making a tentative comeback. Talks, sponsored by the United Nations, are expected in Geneva this week. That is to be welcomed, even though hopes of a breakthrough are slim. Since 2012, numerous rounds of negotiations have come and gone, all essentially fruitless. All too often it was Russian vetoes that hampered effective UN action, including on accountability for chemical weapon use.
Syria’s opposition groups have reorganised their negotiating team, pressured by the fact that they are in the weaker position. The Syrian regime, which first said it would boycott talks if the opposition insisted on Bashar al-Assad’s removal, has said it will send a delegation on Wednesday. The UN envoy, Staffan de Mistura, says his job is to be an incorrigible optimist. But it will take more than optimism to address Syria’s multifaceted war, to end the suffering, to repair a broken country and to begin to seek justice for its millions of victims.
Link : The Guardian view on Syria: Putin tests the west | Editorial