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Inside Syria

What can the SNC meetings achieve?

As Syria's opposition met the UN Security Council for the first time, we ask if a political solution remains possible.

Last Modified: 28 Jul 2013 11:20
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The Syrian opposition has wrapped up its meetings with John Kerry, the United States' secretary of state, at the United Nations in New York.

If you want to raise the prospect of a political solution you have to convince the regime they don't have a chance of a military victory... We have supported every single political initiative.

Najib Ghadbian, Syrian National Coalition

For the first time since the conflict started opposition leaders came to brief the ambassadors of the UN's Security Council, saying they were prepared to attend peace talks. The meeting was a first - but has it achieved anything?

Diplomats say that it is still far from certain that talks in Geneva will take place. But they say it is a little more likely now.

Syrian National Coalition leader Ahmed al-Jabra has said the situation is desperate and called for the US to arm the rebels quickly and to push harder for a political settlement.

The SNC leader has also reiterated that there will be no peace talks with the Syrian government, if its forces continue to kill civilians.

Meanwhile, the United Nations says it has reached an agreement with Syria on an inquiry into the suspected use of chemical weapons.

The meeting comes as the US plans to boost military aid to the Syrian rebels to gain momentum.

Last week the US' highest ranking military officer gave the most detailed assessment yet of Washington's options to end the conflict in Syria.

If we see more agreement on an international level and a stronger faith in politics then we are going to see more consensus on the ground in Syria, less casualties and more space open for political process and hopefully heading towards a solution. 

Rim Turkmani, 'Building the Syrian State'

But the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, General Martin Dempsey, warned that any military intervention would be costly and uncertain.

And, he said, once the US took action, deeper involvement would be hard to avoid. 

General Dempsey assessed the risks and benefits of five military options: Arming and training opposition troops would cost about $500mn year. Limited air strikes, establishing a no-fly zone, creating buffer zones inside Syria, and controlling the government's chemical arms would each cost around $1bn month.

But what can the SNC meetings achieve on the ground? Is a political solution to end Syria's ongoing conflict still possible? And what are the risks of direct US military involvement in the Syrian conflict?

Inside Syria, with presenter Hazem Sika, discusses with guests: Najib Ghadbian; a representative of the Syrian National Coalition at the UN; retired brigadier General Mark Kimmitt, a former US state department official under President George W Bush. He also served as deputy assistant secretary of defense for the Middle East; and Rim Turkmani, a member of the political office of 'Building the Syrian State' - a political movement that calls for a democratic transition in Syria.

"I'm concerned that the progress being made by the regime on the ground is such to provide a disincentive for them to want to negotiate. Until there is some sort of military setback on the part of the Syrian regime, until Assad believes there is a reason to negotiate I believe that he is just going to continue to capture his gains and without providing support to the rebels he could well continue this military operation to the point where he sees absolutely no reason to negotiate."

- Mark Kimmitt, a former US state department official

 

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Source:
Al Jazeera
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