Syrian Peace Talks Begin
The Syrian peace talks, that began on January 23, 2017 in Astana, the Kazakhstan capital, are the latest moves towards ending the bloody six-year old civil war in Syria. It is an initiative by Russia, Turkey and Iran and aims at consolidating a ceasefire agreement that came into force on December 30, brokered by Russia and Turkey.
Opposition spokesman Yahya al-Aridi said there are two main objectives of the ongoing peace talk: “First is the consolidation of the accord signed by Turkey and Russia on the 30th of December, concerning the ceasefire, and making this ceasefire cover all of Syria and at the same time taking care of all the breaches by the regime and Iran, especially in Wadi Barada and Homs and in southern Damascus and other areas in Syria.”
The talks began on Monday with representatives of some of the rebel armed groups sat opposite to the Syrian government delegation on a round table. They are also joined by representatives of Russia, Iran and Turkey, the UN special envoy Staffan de Mistura and the US ambassador to Kazakhstan.
Residents in the Syrian city of Aleppo express high hopes that progress can be made in the strife-torn Syria. One woman in Aleppo said, “I hope that the conference in Kazakhstan will lead to reconciliation. I hope that they all agree to stand with us and that God stands by our side too. God willing things will be well,” said one woman in Aleppo.
Kazakh Foreign Minister Kairat Abdrakhmanov, said that it was time to “make the real breakthrough that Syrian people rightfully deserve”.
Some key players were not present in the talks. The prominent stakeholders like ISIS, al-Qaeda, Saudi Arabia, and the Kurdish-led, U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Council and a powerful militant group named Ahrar al-Sham are not attending the peace talks.
A spokesman for the rebel delegation, Yahya al-Aridi said that the meeting would contribute to the UN brokered Geneva talks on a political settlement, which are scheduled to resume next month.
Syria’s permanent representative to the UN Mr. Jaafari was critical of opposition delegation Chief Mr. Mohammed Alloush’s speech and said on Monday that it had ‘irritated the attendees’ diplomatic senses and experience’. A transcript of Mr. Alloush’s speech has not been released, but a video of part was posted online by a member of his delegation.
Alloush has warned “A political solution in Syria is our choice but it is not the only one because we fight for our rights; our right to live; the right of freedom; the right to decide our fate and the people’s right to decide who will represent them.”