Russia, US Geneva talks spark deja vu
The marathon talks held between John Kerry and Sergei Lavrov in Geneva took 12 hours
The marathon talks held between John Kerry and Sergei Lavrov in Geneva took 12 hours. The talks were, however, no match for those held in July this year, which were characterized by Kerry as “productive.”
During the July talks, both sides announced they would take “concrete steps” in Syria. They shared an understanding of what needed to be done and agreed on how to bring Syria negations back on track.
Both sides have been promising to do all they can to improve the delivery of food, medicine, water and other incredibly essential humanitarian supplies
The US was pushing Russia to use its influence over Damascus to halt the bombing of civilians and so-called moderate rebels who are under the protection of Washington. Russia was called on to press Damascus to “end carnage and return to negotiating table.”
However, media reports suggest nothing was done and the situation on the ground has been drastically aggravated. Russia has made an attempt to open humanitarian corridors to let civilians in Aleppo leave the besieged city.
A doomed plan
I believe the plan failed because it was to serve the war plans of Damascus, not noble humanitarian purposes. If anyone was really interested in improving the humanitarian situation and helping to stop the violence, totally different measures and steps would be taken. Another reason it failed is because the rebel forces have succeeded in breaking the city's blockade and pushing back the Syrian army slightly.
Russia has a clear understanding that the US is not to be relied upon to reach any kind of stable and reliable agreement as the current administration is counting down to the end of its termMaria Dubovikova
The fighting between the Syrian army and opposition forces continues. Violence has been escalating. The usage of chemical raises deep concerns over the future of the conflict. The U.N. probe into chemical weapons’ use in Syria poses new dilemmas for the international community as the number of crimes against humanity in the conflict are reaching tremendously dangerous levels.
Russia has used a military base in Iran to carry out strikes in Syria for some time, mostly as a demonstration of power to the international community rather than for any serious strategic reason.
The new round of Geneva talks has not started yet. However, it was slated for the end of August.
A complex fight
The situation in Syria is becoming more and more complex, leaving less and less space for any peace talks or a political resolution of the conflict.
The recent talks between Lavrov and Kerry were characterized as successful. Russia's minister has claimed that both sides have agreed on “concrete ways in which we will work with the sides” to boost the peace process in Syria.
Russia has promised to work with the government and opposition that is in contact with Moscow, while the US vows to work with the opposition that is in contact with Washington.
We wouldn’t be faulted for feeling a sense of deja vu. The same declarations, the same rhetoric, the same promises were ma de in July.
Russia has a clear understanding that the US is not to be relied upon to reach any kind of stable and reliable agreement as the current administration is counting down to the end of its term. Obama will not take any step in Syria, he has no time for this.
The US has no trump card in its pockets regarding Syria. Russia, meanwhile, is trying to capitalize upon the opportunities presented by this while simultaneously limiting damage to its reputation.
The recent talks did yield a breakthrough as Washington provided the Russian side with a list of rebel organizations who joined the cessation of hostilities after US mediation. It is important to remember that for the Russian side, the separation of moderate forces from extremist groups is one of the most important keys to reducing the violence in Syria.
Despite progress, civilians will continue to die due to the actions of all parties in the war. The murder, slaughter, bombings and shellings will continue.
Maria Dubovikova is a President of IMESClub and CEO of MEPFoundation. Alumni of MGIMO (Moscow State Institute of International Relations [University] of Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Russia), now she is a PhD Candidate there. Her research fields are in Russian foreign policy in the Middle East, Euro-Arab dialogue, policy in France and the U.S. towards the Mediterranean, France-Russia bilateral relations, humanitarian cooperation and open diplomacy. She can be followed on Twitter: @politblogme