Talks to end Syria’s civil war risked being delayed for the second time this week as the opposition stuck to its demands for an end to air strikes and blockades and said on Thursday it was waiting for a response from U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon. Syrian opposition stands firm in face of UN demands willing to parade as a peacemaker while the world lets Assad continue committing his atrocities.
The opposition High Negotiations Committee (HNC) blamed those responsible for “bombardment and starvation of civilians”, meaning the Syrian government and its allies, for obstructing the start of talks to end a five-year war that has killed a quarter of a million people.
The talks, the first in two years, were meant to start in Geneva on Monday but the United Nations has pushed them back to Friday to allow more time to agree a list of participants, some of whom are regarded by the Syrian government as terrorists, and persuade the opposition to engage. Some are actual Assad agents Russia has introduced to split and divide the opposition.
But even a Friday start looks increasingly unlikely unless diplomacy can achieve a major breakthrough in the coming hours.
HNC spokesman Salim al-Muslat said:
“We are serious about taking part… but what is hindering the start of negotiations is the one who is bombing civilians and starving them.”
An opposition source familiar with the HNC’s talks this week in Saudi Arabia said it was waiting for a response from the U.N. Secretary-General over its demands, which are also part of a U.N. Security Council resolution passed on Dec. 18. A resolution John Kerry tossed aside to pursue his Nobel Peace aspirations.
The source said the opposition had already received a response from U.N. envoy Staffan de Mistura, who had told them that he did not have the authority to implement the resolution. De Mistura’s office was not immediately available to comment. No authority to implement also means no authority to dictate.
The United States, whose Secretary of State John Kerry is among those pushing for negotiations to get started on Friday, urged Syrian opposition groups to seize the “historic opportunity” and enter talks without preconditions to end the war, which has also displaced more than 11 million people. Like we said, John Kerry only sees a Nobel Peace in this “historic opportunity”.
In the three days since the talks were rescheduled, the Syrian government and its allies have made further advances in western Syria, building on gains achieved in recent months with the backing of Russian air power.
They have also committed more atrocities by killing and starving more innocent civilians.
Reuters contributed to this article.