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
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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
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