The never ending story of the Syrian peace talks

They invented Geneva I and II and the sequel will likely continue providing audiences with hours of wasteful entertainment while Syria bleeds and the Syrians die in the hundreds daily.

For cultures hooked on Turkish TV series dubbed over in Arabic with the distinct Syrian accent, people seem desensitized to the rising death toll, the swelling refugee crisis, the continued bullying by the Assad regime, the growing influence of bloody Islamist groups, the discord within the Syrian opposition and the seriously uninterested eyes and ears of the international community. They watch and then watch some more thinking it’s simply a plot that will change at any time and in any direction. Tomorrow there will be more of the same.

Unfortunately, Geneva is a non-ending novella aiming at buying time while the actual deals are being cooked in back kitchens and will be delivered pre-packaged and ready to be applied. Winners and losers have already been determined.

Insulting our intelligence

While the name sounds important, Geneva Peace Talks they call them, Foreign Minister Walid Mouallem is in attendance representing Bashar al-Assad. Thank you for insulting our intelligence by returning the failed, murderous, discredited Assad regime into the limelight and giving it legitimacy it had lost a long time ago. Maybe we were not supposed to know that and we were supposed to simply welcome the Geneva effort as the organic solution to Syria’s problems. Perhaps we could have been fooled had the humanitarian crisis been addressed as a pre-requisite to being invited or admitted into the talks. Another way to confuse us would have been to offer concrete plans to alleviate the suffering of millions of scattered Syrian refugees and hundreds starved to death for standing up to the Assad regime.

Geneva is a non-ending novella aiming at buying time while the actual deals are being cooked in back kitchens

Octavia Nasr

Instead, we get a Geneva II that doesn’t even take place in Geneva but in Montreux adding the dramatic touch of a picturesque backdrop.

The talks’ latest Godfather, U.N. envoy Lakhdar Brahimi said it best, “nothing was achieved.” And nothing will be achieved as long as the players are the same murderers of yesteryear injected with a new lifeline and placed at negotiating tables talking peace, a subject they clearly do not subscribe to.

When talks resume next week, nothing will be achieved either. What Syria needs is action, not talks. Action is a big word and no one seems ready to take it on. But, the alternative is much grimmer and the suffering endless.

This article was first published in al-Nahar on Feb. 3, 2014.


Multi-award-winning journalist Octavia Nasr served as CNN’s senior editor of Middle Eastern affairs, and is regarded as one of the pioneers of the use of social media in traditional media. She moved to CNN in 1990, but was dismissed in 2010 after tweeting her sorrow at the death of Hezbollah’s Mohammed Fadlallah. Nasr now runs her own firm, Bridges Media Consulting, whose main aim is to help companies better leverage the use of social networks.

Last Update: Wednesday, 20 May 2020 KSA 09:42 - GMT 06:42
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