Inside Syria

The divisions of diplomacy

Are discussions about political solutions to the Syrian conflict completely detached from the reality on the ground?

Last Modified: 22 Sep 2013 11:57
Email Article
Print Article
Share article
Send Feedback

In recent days much of the focus has been about what to do with Syria's chemical weapons, but on the ground the civil war is showing no signs of easing and fighting remains as fierce as ever.

The conflict that has gone on for more than two years and killed at least 100,000 people. And yet any resolution is still hindered by the lack of consensus between major world powers that back opposing sides in the fighting.

I think that you don't go the dialogue table with the sponsors that you want, you go to the dialogue table with the sponsors that you have. And to wait and say 'We expect them to withdraw arms and support even before we can even begin to discuss compromises' it's a naive and idealistic objective.

Elias Muhanna, Brown University

Neither the opposition nor the government is strong enough to tip the balance in the conflict. But the one thing all sides seem to agree on is the need for diplomacy.

Qadri Jamil, Syria’s deputy prime minister, said stopping foreign intervention should be the first step.

"For the violence to be halted, external intervention must be stopped, therefore the sequence should be like this: Preventing external intervention, stopping the violence and then launching a political process," he said.

French President Francois Hollande hopes that even Iran could help broker a dea. But diplomacy moves slowly.

Syria has now handed over a list of its chemical weapons sites to the chemical weapons watchdog, the OPCW. The disclosure was required under the agreement between US secretary of state John Kerry and Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov as the first stage of eliminating Syria's stockpiles.

The permanent five members of the UN Security Council have been meeting daily to hammer out an agreement for the destruction of Syria’s chemical weapons, but they need the OPCW to agree to the plan first before they can put it to a vote.

The OPCW postponed a meeting on the plan that had been set for Sunday, pushing back a possible Security Council vote indefinitely.

It is very difficult to get an accurate picture of what is going on, but when finding political solutions and starting peace talks, is that completely detached from the reality on the ground or are opposition fighters watching and reacting to political developments? What is Iran's role? And what are the challenges facing the SNC?

Inside Syria, with presenter Jane Dutton, discusses with guests: Anna Therese Day, an independent journalist, writer and producer; Elias Muhanna, an associate professor of comparative literature and Middle East studies at Brown University; and Saleh Mubarak, a member of the Syrian National Council and a professor at Qatar University.

"We appreciate your [Hassan Rouhani] offer very much but before you can mediate you have to be neutral, in order to be neutral you have to pull your forces, stop sending weapons, military experts and those militias that you are supporting in Syria. Once you stop that you can qualify to be a moderator or a mediator."

Saleh Mubarak, a member of the Syrian National Council


Al Jazeera
Email Article
Print Article
Share article
Send Feedback
Topics in this article
Featured on Al Jazeera
An innovative rehabilitation programme offers Danish fighters in Syria an escape route and help without prosecution.
Street tension between radical Muslims and Holland's hard right rises, as Islamic State anxiety grows.
Take an immersive look at the challenges facing the war-torn country as US troops begin their withdrawal.
Ministers and MPs caught on camera sleeping through important speeches have sparked criticism that they are not working.
More than 400 gaming dens operate on native lands, but critics say social ills and inequality stack the deck.
The Palestinian president is expected to address the UN with a new proposal for the creation of a Palestinian state.
Nearly 1,200 aboriginal females have been killed or disappeared over 30 years with little justice served, critics say.
Ethnic violence has wracked China's restive Xinjiang region, leading to a tight government clampdown.
Malay artists revitalise the art of puppeteering by fusing tradition with modern characters such as Darth Vader.
join our mailing list