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Failure of Syria diplomacy in Vienna

Humanitarian needs have not been met in Syria, resulting in death by starvation

Mashari Althaydi

Published: Updated:

The International Syria Support Group (ISSG) left the Geneva talks not admitting their failure, but that is the conclusion of the statements made by foreign ministers and by the team of UN special envoy Staffan de Mistura.

The ISSG includes the United States, Russia, European countries, Saudi Arabia and even Iran, as well as three international organizations.

The aims of the Vienna talks were to solidify the ceasefire, deliver humanitarian aid and begin a political transition. However, the Syrian regime and its allies did not respect any of these goals, nor did the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) or Al-Nusra Front, which are not part of the talks.

Humanitarian needs have not been met, resulting in death by starvation in places such as Madaya and Al-Waar, so the Vienna talks agreed to aid airdrops.

Washington and Moscow disagree over a political transition, with Russia stubbornly refusing to see Syrian President Bashar al-Assad as the problem

Mshari al-Thaydi

US and Russia

Washington and Moscow disagree over a political transition, with Russia stubbornly refusing to see Syrian President Bashar al-Assad as the problem.

Philip Gordon, a former National Security Council aide to US President Barack Obama, criticized US policy in this regard, saying: “Many have consistently underestimated Russia’s determination to prevent [the Assad] regime from falling.”

There have been many news reports on European frustration over US-Russian disagreement on Syria. This contradicts US Secretary of State John Kerry’s repeatedly optimistic statements.

Europe believes the Syrian conflict has caused security, social and political problems in its countries due to the refugee influx and the rise of far-right parties as a result. This in addition to ISIS recruitment of Europeans, some of whom are converts to Islam.

The Obama administration has always acted gradually on Syria, and after provocative hesitation that made matters worse, emboldening Russia and Iran in their support of Assad.

After the Vienna talks ended, Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir told reporters: “We believe we should have moved to a Plan B a long time ago.”

This article was first published in Asharq al-Awsat on May 18, 2016.
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Saudi journalist Mshari Al Thaydi presents Al Arabiya News Channel’s “views on the news” daily show “Maraya.” He has previously held the position of a managing senior editor for Saudi Arabia & Gulf region at pan-Arab newspaper Asharq al-Awsat. Al Thaydi has published several papers on political Islam and social history of Saudi Arabia. He appears as a guest on several radio and television programs to discuss the ideologies of extremist groups and terrorists.

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