This week’s headlines declared the second round of Syrian talks to be a failure. The United Nations mediator for Syria Lakhdar Brahimi concluded the second round of talks without even setting a date for further negotiations. Both sides were sent home with instructions to reflect on their commitment to possible diplomacy. These attempts at discussions have only been a dismal failure. In the beginning, I took the position that such was inevitable regardless of international pressure to move forward.
The Syrian government stalled because they believed they are currently ahead in the war. The inside story revealed the Assad regime so closely monitored the discussions that even the smallest details were checked by them. Russia has either not tried or at least not made progress in changing Assad’s mind. The Syrian regime’s delegation refused to discuss a change of government which is exactly what the rebels are fighting for. End of story. A train going nowhere.
This past week the town of Homs was again filled with tragedy. Two trucks attempting to bring food and supplies into rebel held areas came under heavy fire, wounding four paramedics. Apparently, the trucks were targeted by roadside bombs and mortar shells. As the week progressed, dozens of women and children attempted to escape from the town under an agreement between the government and the rebels for a three-day cease fire. Like everything else in Syria the truce tragically didn’t hold. Taking cover behind United Nations vehicles, the citizens ran to exit the town. When explosions returned, many left their baggage and belongings and ran.
The government accused rebels of trying to score points with the international community by capitalizing on human suffering while the negotiations were still in session. However, anyone following the plight of the citizens trapped in the Old Homs area knew of the severe food shortages and the frail condition of these exhausted survivors.
During these efforts, the commander of the main Western-backed rebel group appealed to the Islamic extremist groups for unity. The Al-Qaeda linked Al- Nusra Front vowed to torpedo these efforts as well as negotiations with the government. Consequently, it is almost impossible to identify who actually speaks for the rebels.
When all of these elements in the conflict are mixed together, it makes for one big-time mess going nowhere. With more than 135,000 Syrians already killed and 9.5 million driven from their homes, the debacle continues to escalate. As I painfully noted earlier, no end appears in sight until the last soldier has been massacred.