A second conference on the Syria conflict has been arranged to take place in Geneva during the third week of November. This comes more than a year after the first such international meeting was unsuccessful in bringing an end to the war.
Washington and Moscow have been working with organisers to develop the outlines for an agreement for a political transition.
US Secretary of State John Kerry has reiterated his country’s outlook: “We believe that President Assad has lost the legitimacy necessary to be able to be a cohesive force that could bring people together and that there has to be a new governing entity in Syria in order to permit the possibility of peace.”
President Bashar al-Assad and his regime insist they are staying right where they are. He has demanded the rebels – whom he calls terrorists – be disarmed as a condition before he even starts to negotiate.
Assad said: “The first factor needed to guarantee the success of the Geneva Convention is to stop any kind of terrorist activity in Syria or the entry of terrorists from abroad into the county, and stop providing weapons or financial support to terrorists. If we fail on this point, the whole political processes will turn into a worthless illusion.”
Opposition groups do not form a clear picture at all. The Syrian National Council, the body that’s the main component of the opposition coalition, has refused to participate in Geneva unless its conditions are met.
Council leader Ahmed Jarba said: “We have stated clearly we are not rejecting Geneva II for the sake of rejecting it. But we can only accept in certain circumstances that guarantee its success and prevent the regime from buying time.”
The coalition wants a guarantee that Assad will leave. So: the many discordant voices involved are discrediting the conference before it has even begun.