Ceasefire falls apart as Assad holds latest sham election
Predictable issues have derailed ongoing negotiations over the Syrian conflict
Predictable issues have derailed ongoing negotiations over the Syrian conflict, with the opposition resuming fighting against the Syrian regime, which has repeatedly broken the cessation of hostilities agreement that was implemented in February.
In addition to the continued Assad regime bombardment of forces ostensibly included in the ceasefire agreement, the primary issue that continues to sabotage the latest efforts to bring some semblance of calm to the war-torn country and resolution to the never-ending conflict, remains unchanged: fierce disagreement over the future of Bashar al-Assad’s criminal regime.
Sincere efforts to bring the conflict to an end, or carve out a path that will lead to such a reality, will continue to fail so long as they involve negotiating with parties that demand Assad remain in power. Such a proposal dismisses the fact that the Assad regime’s failure to step down years ago remains the chief reason why Syria has spiralled into hell and allowed barbaric actors, including ISIS, to flourish.
Reuters reported that only three delegates from the opposition met UN special envoy Steffan de Mistura on 18 April, when typically 15 delegates do so. It is understandable that the opposition is considering completely pulling out of talks; the Syrian regime’s history of pretending to be interested in negotiations while stepping up their military campaign on the ground is well-documented.
There is no reason to assess the regime has moved away from that strategy at this stage. And with the Syrian military preparing a major offensive to attempt to seize all of Aleppo, a return to all out fighting appears inevitable in the near-term.
Assad’s latest signal that he has no immediate interest in stepping down was sent to Syrians and the international community when he held parliamentary elections in government-controlled areas this weekBrooklyn Middleton
Assad’s latest signal that he has no immediate interest in stepping down was sent to Syrians and the international community when he held parliamentary elections in government-controlled areas this week. The latest election - as was the presidential vote held in 2014 – was of course a total sham.
As thousands of Palestinians face starvation in Yarmouk and the women of Daraya beg the government to lift the siege on their community, the AP reported that the government extended voting hours until midnight due to what Syrian state news indicated was “massive turnout.”
The Syrian regime has repeatedly vowed that it will not cede an inch of land to the opposition nor relinquish a bit of political power; it is critical that negotiators start listening and planning accordingly. While the West appears to operate under the assumption Assad will ultimately prove willing to depart, his regime continues signaling the precise opposite.
Meanwhile, Russia’s public and sudden announcement that its forces would withdraw from Syria has yet to be illustrated on the ground. The notion that Russia made such an announcement - in an effort to pressure the Assad regime into negotiations with the West – is an assessment that appear weaker with the Syrian military’s every advance.
The US should fully back the opposition’s decision to pull away from talks with the Syrian regime until their basic demands are seriously addressed. The basis for a longer term agreement will not be built on fresh ruin and bloodshed amid attempts by the regime to award itself political legitimacy with sham elections.
Brooklyn Middleton is an American Political and Security Risk Analyst currently based in New York City. She has previously written about US President Obama's policy in Syria as well as Bashar al-Assad's continued crimes against his own people. She recently finished her MA thesis on Ayatollah Khomeini’s influence on the Palestinian Islamic Jihad militant group, completing her Master's degree in Middle Eastern Studies. You can follow her on Twitter here: @BklynMiddleton.
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