Everyone to blame for failure of Syria diplomacy

Maria Dubovikova

Published: Updated:

International leaders are blaming Russia for the failure of the Geneva talks on Syria, and the general paralysis of the peace process. Moscow is blamed for causing an enormous number of casualties due to its bombings, for increasing the refugee flow to neighbouring countries, and for blindly supporting President Bashar al-Assad. Russian denials are unconvincing, which makes such accusations more persuasive.

It is useless to deny that Russia’s purpose in Syria is not only to fight the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), but to back the full-scale offensive of Assad’s forces. It is counterproductive to proclaim that the fight in Aleppo is against ISIS or terrorists, because it is commonly known that it is a stronghold of Syrian rebels.

There is a strong feeling that all sides are convinced, but cannot officially admit, that the Syrian conflict can only be settled militarily.

Maria Dubovikova

It is counterproductive to deny civilian casualties when this is inevitable with any airstrikes targeting populated areas. Those of the U.S.-led coalition are always causing civilian causalities, but media coverage of that is scant. It is counterproductive to present a scenario of righteous fighters against evil, because on the Syrian battlefield no one is righteous. Such disavowals of evident things undermine reputations and positions in any negotiation process.

We are living in an era of high-speed information, where anyone can not only consume information but generate it, sharing eye-witnesses accounts on social media. What can be more reliable than proof from witnesses?

Moscow has good negotiating proposals, which U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry acknowledges. However, he has said fairly that if their purpose is to allow the continuation of Russian airstrikes, they are useless and no one will agree to them.


Taking into account that Syrian rebels appear mostly abandoned by their Western allies, and that pro-Assad forces have been strengthened by Russian airstrikes and weaponry, the complete defeat of Syrian rebels on the ground seems the most plausible scenario. Under such circumstances, the Syrian opposition is extremely weakened at the negotiating table.

Russia’s participation in the war and in diplomacy does not help talks, but it is not the only one to blame for their failure. The Syrian opposition has not united its ranks or elaborated a common position and approach. In addition, the absence of Kurdish representatives in negotiations due to Turkish opposition is absurd, because the Kurds play a huge role in the fate of Syria and Iraq, and the fight against ISIS.

Iran pursuing its own interests, on the ground and at the negotiation table, does not help talks. Neither does Gulf states’ willingness to launch ground operations against ISIS as part of the U.S.-led coalition, as they would most likely support Syrian rebels against pro-Assad forces. No player at the negotiating table is contributing to the success of the political process.

There is a strong feeling that all sides are convinced, but cannot officially admit, that the Syrian conflict can only be settled militarily. The problem is that military means complicate the situation, especially from a global perspective. Unfortunately, the possibility of a political resolution has been dramatically undermined by Russian airstrikes, which are officially against ISIS but have concentrated on rebel strongholds also.

Moscow and Assad will defeat the rebels and terrorists, but also crush hopes for justice, a political transition and diplomatic resolution.

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