Acrimony Deadlocks Syrian Peace Talks

Acrimony and frustration were on full display at the second round of Syria peace talks, which ended in a deadlock. The future of the negotiations has been thrown into doubt, as the government delegation has appeared to rule out any compromise with the opposition. The United States and Russia, the two major sponsors of the talks, are trying to find ways to break the impasse in Geneva and move forward with the negotiations. Members of the opposition delegation said there was a small possibility of a final meeting between the parties to make headway on an agreement, but their hopes for a solution are slim.

The opposition delegation appeared to offer a significant compromise during the talks. For the first time, the opposition’s language in its proposal did not specifically demand that President Bashar al-Assad be excluded from the new transitional government that would be created under a cease-fire agreement. According to diplomats with knowledge of the situation, Mr. Assad’s negotiators did not even read the compromise.

The negotiators for the Syrian government have repeatedly insisted that the talks should focus on fighting terrorism. Syria’s deputy foreign minister Fayssal Mekdad, lead negotiator in the talks, said that all those who “carry arms against their people and their government are terrorists.” This stance appeared to rule out any common ground with Mr. Assad’s opponents. Mr. Mekdad also made a comment about Valerie Amos, the United Nations relief coordinator, expressing displeasure at her report to the Security Council that accused both the government and the insurgents of flagrant violations of humanitarian law and denounced the attacks that have occurred against aid workers in the region.

It was hoped that the second round of talks would make some progress towards ending the nearly three-year-old conflict. Another aspect of the talks was attempting to find a way to allow humanitarian aid to reach the Syrian civilians whose neighborhoods have become combat zones. It is estimated that hundreds of thousands of Syrian civilians are facing deprivation and starvation due to the civil war in their country.

In recent weeks, the human rights office of the United Nations has sounded the alarm on new deprivations and civilian uprooting inside Syria. There has been a large car bombing in the south that killed dozens of civilians. There has also been reports of an execution carried out by Al Qaeda-linked jihadists in the north that resulted in 21 people killed. Antigovernment activists in the country are also reporting new mayhem in the region.

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