Who's responsible for Geneva II failure?

It was the Americans and partially the Russians who failed the long-awaited peace talks

Raed Omari

Published: Updated:

Now that the recently concluded Geneva peace conference on Syria has proved to be a big failure indeed, the fundamental question of who to blame for the deadlock in the much-derailed talks remains contested.

Though much of the blame has been given to Syria's warring parties, it was the Americans and partially the Russians who failed the long-awaited peace talks. Full stop.

Russia and America’s failure

The Americans have put no considerable pressure on the regime of President Bashar al-Assad to make any concessions during the talks nor have they provided enough political support to the Syrian opposition, let alone military assistance. It was as if they meant to fail the conference.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, who was outspoken before the conference, insisting on the absence of al-Assad in Syria's future, did nothing to press for that end during the negotiations and has been silent following the talks though he was unquestionably its "godfather."

Aside from the stubborn counter position of the pro-Assad Russians as opposed to that of the anti-Assad Americans, the U.S. could have done a lot to break the deadlock in the Syrian peace talks, giving only as proof the Syrian regime's obedience to Washington's orders following its threat of military attack after the "forgotten" Aug. 21 chemical attack on Damascus' eastern Ghouta. The Russians were silent about this.

With this in mind, one would be wondering why the Americans have not pushed adequately for a political solution to the Syrian war that they have been advocating almost since the time the pro-democracy protests erupted in March 2011?

U.S. apathy

Some days even before convening Geneva talks, a friend of mine very familiar with Washington's foreign policy on Syria – in fact from within the U.S. Department of State – spoke to me about Kerry's apathy to the face-to-face negotiations between the Syrian regime and the opposition, unveiling the American top diplomat's eagerness to go the United Nations Security Council instead.

Though my friend was very surprised, he was totally convinced of the incapability of Geneva talks to achieve any breakthrough in the whole Syrian file, citing as a reason the U.S.'s indifference to both the regime and the opposition. What my friend said has proved to be 100% correct.

However, we disagreed over why the U.S. would go to the Security Council, where it may face again the Russian and Chinese veto on any resolution on Syria.

On that matter, he was also certain that the Americans and Russians have reached a deal on the need to pass a resolution on Syria humanitarian assistance. My friend has proved to be right again with reference to Russia's Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov welcoming a U.N. resolution on Syria aid access if the Security Council does not "politicize" the issue.

One would be wondering why the Americans have not pushed adequately for a political solution to the Syrian war that they have been advocating almost since the time the pro-democracy protests erupted in March 2011?

Raed Omari

Now aside from what my friend has said and regardless of the proved authenticity of his remarks, the failure of Geneva talks is just proof of the uselessness and meaninglessness of the talk about a political solution to the Syrian crisis. A solution to the almost three years of conflict in Syria is to be imposed and not agreed on by Syria's warring sides.

The Syrian regime insisting on discussing only terrorism and the opposition insisted on a transitional government during the talks is a proof of the impossibility of the two parties reaching a deal if not dictated from outside.

A political solution to the Syrian crisis has long been projected as an alternative to a military interference with no third option suggested and with the decaying possibility Syria's opposing parties attaining a peace deal, then it should be plan B again.

Military interference

Talks regarding military interference and providing lethal weapons to the Syrian opposition’s military arm, the Free Syrian army, followed the failure of Geneva conference. Many news agencies have also cited intelligence reports which discuss the training of Syrian rebels by the United States.

Though all reports are still speculative and difficult to trace as based on intelligence leaks, a military interference in Syria or a strongly-worded and abiding Security Council resolution are the only remaining options to end the ongoing struggle unless the Americans prove otherwise.

The abrupt visit of President of the Syrian Coalition Ahmad al-Jarba to the rebel-held areas in Idlib province while Geneva conference was still not officially concluded is a proof of the oppositions' dissatisfaction over any political solution on Syria.

Day by day, the issue of Syria appears to not be an urgent matter for the Americans to address until other elements are resolved, including the chemical weapons stockpile, extremist groups, mainly the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, and the Lebanese Shiite Hezbollah. Indecisiveness on Syria has proved to be the United States’ unannounced policy, at least for the time being.

All in all, the Middle East for the U.S. has never been tackled as a combination of countries each with different conditions and distinctive characteristics but as one "package" of interrelated considerations.

In other words, the Syrian people have to wait for resolutions for other Middle East issues to have the crisis addressed or have to wait for the war to be placed within a larger regional framework to be resolved.

Raed Omari is a Jordanian journalist, political analyst, parliamentary affairs expert, and commentator on local and regional political affairs. His writing focuses on the Arab Spring, press freedoms, Islamist groups, emerging economies, climate change, natural disasters, agriculture, the environment and social media. He is a writer for The Jordan Times, and contributes to Al Arabiya English. He can be reached via raed_omari1977@yahoo.com, or on Twitter @RaedAlOmari2

Disclaimer: Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not reflect Al Arabiya English's point-of-view.