Syrian Civil War peace process

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Muslims and Christians at a meeting with Arab League monitors in Damascus on 17 January 2012.

Syrian conflict peace proposals are initiatives and plans to resolve what started as the Syrian protests, later became uprising, and gradually escalated into the Syrian Civil War. The Arab League in late 2011 launched two initiatives, without much success. Russia in January 2012 and in November 2013 suggested talks in Moscow between the Syrian government and opposition. In March-May 2012, hopes were on a United Nations/Arab League plan coordinated by Kofi Annan. In January and February 2014, the Geneva II Conference on Syria took place, organized by Lakhdar Brahimi, then UN envoy to Syria. On 30 October 2015, further talks started in Vienna involving officials from the US, the EU, Russia, China and various regional actors such as Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Turkey and, for the first time, Iran.

Timeline[edit]

Arab League peace plans 2011-2012[edit]

In November 2011 – January 2012, the Arab League (AL) twice tried to accomplish an end to Syrian government (and opposition) violence and convince both parties to start talks instead of fighting.

After agreement of the Syrian government to the AL plan of 19 December the AL sent a monitoring mission to Syria. Violence continued and Saudi Arabia on 22 January withdrew its monitors from the mission, and called on Russia, China and all other states to pressure Syria strongly to adhere to the AL peace plan. The Arab League on 28 January 2012 ended its monitoring mission.

Russian peace initiatives for Syria[edit]

2012 'informal talks' proposal[edit]

On 30 January 2012, the Russian foreign ministry suggested “informal” talks in Moscow between the Syrian government and opposition, and said the Syrian authorities had already agreed to the Russian offer. Abdel Baset Seda, a member of the Syrian National Council’s executive committee, told Reuters that the SNC had not received any formal invitation for such talks, but would decline if one arrived: “Our position has not changed and it is that there is no dialogue with (President Bashar al-Assad)”.[1]

Feb. 2012: offering the fall of Assad[edit]

In February 2012 Martti Ahtisaari held talks with envoys of the permanent members of the United Nations Security Council. During those discussions the Russian ambassador, Vitaly Churkin, proposed a three-point plan, which would bring the Syrian government and opposition to the negotiation table and result in Assad stepping down as president. US, Britain and France rejected that proposal, being convinced that fall of Assad's government was inevitable. “It was an opportunity lost in 2012,” Ahtisaari said in an interview in September 2015.[2]

2013[edit]

7 November 2013, Russia again announced it was trying to broker talks in Moscow between the Syrian government and opposition, seeing that the U.S. and Russian negotiators failed to agree on whether or not Assad should be forced out of office.[3] Russia's Deputy Foreign Minister Bogdanov said, the Moscow talks could focus on humanitarian problems as well on some political issues.[3]

Friends of Syria Group, February 2012[edit]

In February 2012, the then French President Sarkozy initiated an international "contact group" to find a solution for the Syrian conflict, after Russia and China had vetoed a 4 February 2012 UN Security Council resolution.[4] The group held four meetings, all in the year 2012.

Kofi Annan peace plan, March 2012[edit]

The Kofi Annan (Joint Special Envoy for the United Nations and the Arab League) peace plan,[5] launched in March 2012, intended to commit both the Syrian government and opposition to a cease fire and commit the Syrian government to initiate deliberations with the opposition on their aspirations and concerns. After Annan on 12 April had assumed that both parties had agreed to a cease fire, the UN already on 1 May had to admit that both parties were violating it.

Eid al-Adha cease fire attempt, September 2012[edit]

Lakhdar Brahimi, an Algerian diplomat, appointed on September 1, 2012, as the new U.N.-Arab League special representative for Syria, appealed on both the Syrian government and the armed opposition to stop the killing during the Islamic festival of Eid al-Adha, which fell that year probably on 26 October 2012, and 3 or 4 days after it. Government and most of the opposition groups said ‘yes’ to his appeal. Yet, the lull in the fighting lasted very short, according to Brahimi, after which both parties accused the other of not having stopped its violence.[6]

Geneva II, 2012-2014[edit]

The Geneva II Middle East peace conference was a United Nations (UN) backed international (peace) conference, aimed at bringing Syrian government and opposition together to discuss a transitional government. Lakhdar Brahimi, UN special envoy to Syria, tried to pursue the conference in close cooperation with the U.S. and Russia. It started on 22 January 2014 and ended on 31 January; no agreement was reached.

UN envoy peace proposal, 2015[edit]

UN peace envoy for Syria, Staffan de Mistura, announced in early July plans to present new proposals at the end of July on the next steps needed in efforts to end the war. There have been no peace talks on Syria since the Geneva II meetings in early 2014 ended in failure.[7]

Zabadani cease-fire[edit]

In September 2015 Hezbollah, an ally of the Syrian government, announced a six-month truce between the rebel-held town of Zabadani near Damascus and two Shia towns in the north-west of Syria. The deal was reached after mediation from Iran.[8]

Four committees initiative[edit]

The Four committees initiative is a proposal put forward by United Nations envoy Staffan de Mistura on 29 July 2015 as a way to start the peace process in the Syrian Civil War.[9]

Vienna process (since October 2015)[edit]

Further information: Syria peace talks in Vienna

On 23 October 2015, the Foreign Ministers of the United States, Russia, Saudi Arabia and Turkey met and talked in Vienna, Austria, to find a way to end the Syrian conflict.[10]

On 30 October 2015, the first round of the Syria peace talks were held in Vienna with foreign ministers of 20 countries participating: U.S., Russia, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, China, United Kingdom, France, Italy, Germany and other countries. The ministers agreed on the need of the Syrian government and opposition to start political talks.[11][12] The second round of the Vienna talks held in mid-November produced an agreement on the need to convene Syrian government and opposition representatives in formal negotiations under UN auspices with a target date of 1 January 2016.[13]

A day after a meeting of anti-government factions, including Ahrar ash-Sham, held in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, on 10 December produced a statement of principles to guide peace talks with the Syrian government,[14][15] Syrian president Bashar Assad said he would not negotiate with "foreign terrorists."[16] Russia also rejected the outcome of the meeting in Riyadh, which it said was unrepresentative and included terrorist groups.[17]

After John Kerry visited Moscow where he met his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov as well as Vladimir Putin on 15 December, it was announced that on 18 December 2015 world powers would meet in New York to pass a UN resolution endorsing the principles of the Syria peace process.[17]

On 18 December 2015, the UN Security Council, having overcome the gridlock on Syria that had persisted since October 2011,[18][19][20] unanimously passed Resolution 2254 (2015), endorsing the ISSG′s transitional plan that set out a timetable for formal talks and a unity government within six months; the resolution put UN special envoy Staffan de Mistura in charge of organising Syria talks.[21][22] However, the major powers remained divided on who should represent the Syrian opposition; no mention was made of the future role of Syrian President Bashar Assad.[23][24]

Riyadh December 2015 conference of Syrian opposition groups[edit]

ON 10 December 2015, a two-day meeting started in Riyadh, the capital of Saudi Arabia, aiming at unifying Syria’s opposition groups and forming an opposition delegation for the planned negotiations with the Syrian government (see Syria peace talks in Vienna#14 November 2015 meeting).[25][26]

Syrian Kurdish factions were not represented at the meeting in Riyadh.[26] Jabhat al-Nusra had not been invited because of its assumed ‘terrorist links’ or al-Qaeda ties.[26]

An agreement emerged on 12 December:[26] 34 oppositional groups allied themselves as ‘the High Negotiation Committee’.[27] This included, among others, Ahrar al-Sham and Jaysh al-Islam, but did not include Syrian Kurds[27] and not include some moderate opposition members supported by Russia.[28]

France announced that “the Syrian opposition” had reached an agreement and had “adopted a common program” in Riyadh.[25] Apart from France and Saudi Arabia, also Turkey and Qatar supported that ‘High Negotiation Committee’.[27]

Russia however said that those gathered in Riyadh did not represent all opposition groups and therefore were not in a position to speak on behalf of the entire Syrian opposition.[25]

Geneva 2016 Peace Conference on Syria[edit]

On Friday, 29 January 2016, a UN Peace Conference for Syria has started in Geneva in Switzerland. At the first day, Syrian government and opposition refused to sit in the same room together.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Russia says Syria agrees to peace talks with opposition amid mounting pressures". Al Arabiya. 30 January 2012. Retrieved 29 November 2013. 
  2. ^ "West 'ignored Russian offer in 2012 to have Syria's Assad step aside'". 2015-09-15. Retrieved 2015-09-17. 
  3. ^ a b Canceled Syria talks may get new start in Moscow, USA Today, 7 November 2013. Retrieved 25 November 2013.
  4. ^ "France, partners planning Syria crisis group: Sarkozy". Reuters. 4 Feb 2012. Retrieved 17 October 2015. 
  5. ^ "Six-Point Proposal Presented to Syrian Authorities". UN Security Council. 21 March 2012. Retrieved 11 April 2012. 
  6. ^ Politically Speaking (22 August 2013). "Syria, a civil, sectarian and proxy war". The Elders. Archived from the original on 1 September 2013. Retrieved 24 November 2013. 
  7. ^ "UN envoy to present new Syria peace proposals". Yahoo News. July 10, 2015. 
  8. ^ 'Hezbollah announces truce covering three Syrian towns'. Al Jazeera, 26 September 2015. Retrieved 24 October 2015.
  9. ^ UN chief takes aim at Russia over Syria military buildup, Middle East Eye, 17-09-2015
  10. ^ Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, 24 October 2015.[full citation needed]
  11. ^ "Syria conflict: Powers backing rivals meet in Vienna". BBC. 30 October 2015. Retrieved 30 October 2015. 
  12. ^ Arch-rivals Saudi Arabia, Iran to discuss Syria face-to-face for first time, Reuters, 28-10-15
  13. ^ "Statement of the International Syria Support Group". Official website of the European Union. 14 November 2015. Retrieved 16 November 2015. 
  14. ^ Syrian revolution and opposition forces express their commitment to the Syrian unity
  15. ^ "Syria conflict: Opposition agrees framework for peace talks". BBC. 10 December 2015. Retrieved 12 December 2015. 
  16. ^ "Assad says he won't step down, won't negotiate with 'terrorists'". DW. 11 December 2015. Retrieved 12 December 2015. 
  17. ^ a b "Syria conflict: US and Russia signal new push at UN". BBC. 15 December 2015. Retrieved 16 December 2015. 
  18. ^ Russia and China veto draft Security Council resolution on Syria UN website, 4 October 2011.
  19. ^ "Russia and China Block U.N. Action on Crisis in Syria". The New York Times. 4 February 2012. Retrieved 19 December 2015. 
  20. ^ "Russian vetoes are putting UN security council's legitimacy at risk, says US". The Guardian. 23 September 2015. Retrieved 10 January 2016. 
  21. ^ "Security Council Unanimously Adopts Resolution 2254 (2015), Endorsing Road Map for Peace Process in Syria, Setting Timetable for Talks". The UN website. 18 December 2015. Retrieved 19 December 2015. 
  22. ^ "Syria war: UN Security Council unanimously backs peace plan". BBC. 18 December 2015. Retrieved 19 December 2015. 
  23. ^ "U.N. endorses Syria peace plan in rare show of unity among big powers". Reuters. 19 December 2015. Retrieved 19 December 2015. 
  24. ^ "Differences remain as key sides meet for Syria talks". Aljazeera. 18 December 2015. Retrieved 19 December 2015. 
  25. ^ a b c 'Saudi hails Syrian opposition meet ‘breakthrough’'. Al Arabiya News, 12 December 2015. Retrieved 27 January 2016.
  26. ^ a b c d 'Syria Talks: Rebel Negotiations In Saudi Arabia Exclude Key Players In Syrian Opposition'. International Business Times, 13 December 2015. Retrieved 27 January 2016.
  27. ^ a b c NRC Handelsblad, 26 January 2016. Full citation (translated from Dutch): “Late last year, Saudi Arabia has forged an alliance of 34 groups that should represent the whole opposition at the negotiations – the High Negotiation Committee. (…) In the lead up to the peace talks, Saudi Arabia has forged an alliance of 34 political and armed groups that should represent the opposition in Geneva. But that alliance does by far not include all Syrian opposition groups. The alliance is being supported by France, Turkey and Qatar. But Russia objects to the fact that radical islamic groups as Ahrar al-Sham and Jaish al-Islam are part of the alliance. (…) Turkey supports the High Negotiation Committee and fiercely opposes participation of Syrian Kurds.”
  28. ^ NRC Handelsblad, 30 January 2016. Full citation (from the Dutch): “…only the delegation of the regime and some members of the moderate opposition supported by Russia had come down to Geneva”.