Geneva meeting of the Syria Action Group

July 13, 2012, Friday/ 11:11:00

Upon the call of UN and Arab League special envoy on the Syrian crisis Kofi Annan, the permanent members of the United Nations Security Council, and Foreign Ministers of Turkey, Qatar, Iraq and Kuwait convened in Geneva, Switzerland, on 30 June 2012.

It might easily be suggested that a concrete, substantial, solution-oriented and effective decision was not reached in the meeting related to the crisis in Syria, as already expected. The meeting failed to reach a common decision which would exclude Assad, the main responsible of the events in Syria. The statements made before the aforesaid meeting by the representatives of countries to attend in the meeting clearly put forth that it would not be possible to act in accordance with a joint action plan. The most serious decision taken during the meeting was the decision reached on establishing a transitional government. The aforesaid decision might be outlined as follows: An agreement was reached to establish a transitional government for a peace settlement in Syria. The aforesaid transitional government was stated to be composed of opponents, the members of current government in Syria and all the other components within common accord. Besides, it was highlighted that all segments of the society are required to be included in the national dialogue process. Furthermore, it might easily be suggested that all other decisions are not quite different from the six points, namely the Annan Plan, to a large extent.

It can be suggested that the decision taken by the Syria Action Group in Geneva on establishing an interim government, in which all the Syrian parties take part, in order to solve the crisis in Syria cannot be implemented. How? First of all, the aforesaid decisions were not taken seriously by the Assad regime and the Opposition groups which are the two parties of the crisis in Syria. It is quite difficult, or even impossible to have positive results from neutral solution offers in crisis environment. The opposition forces in Syria stated they see the decision related to creating an interim government in Geneva as loss of time, and that they would not welcome any solution that involves Bashar Assad. In this context, it is understood that the Opposition forces consider the efforts that would not exclude Assad as useless efforts. On the other hand, the Assad regime doesn't abstain from carrying on massacres that have been going on in Syria for some sixteen months.         

Other than the parties of crisis in Syria, there are also major differences in the approaches of the states, which convene from time to time as in Geneva, on the aforesaid crisis and solution in order to find a solution to the crisis. Even the decisions taken are read differently. Even though they agreed on creating an interim government which would include all concerned parties for the solution of the Syrian crisis in Geneva, it seems that they have different opinions regarding how this will happen. Although the U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who attended the meeting, stated that “the aforesaid decision paves the way for the post-Assad government” and that “Assad should certainly leave the office”, the biggest supporter of Assad in the international platform Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov indicated that according to the decisions taken, “there is nothing that requires Bashar Assad's leaving the office” and that in the declaration, “there is no attempt to impose any kind of transition process on Syrian people.” As clearly stated in these two different approaches, it is seen that the agreement reached in Geneva is far from bringing any solution to the crisis in Syria.              

Which conclusion could be drawn from the meeting held in Geneva?

-It might be suggested that the agreement reached in Geneva came up as a result of the fact that the world public opinion had to do something on the crisis in Syria which is getting more intense with each passing day, after the Annan Plan that came to a deadlock and got stuck. Thus, the powers which did not want to take any serious initiative such as a military intervention and which could not agree on a joint action plan pretended to be doing something. Considering the current approaches of the parties and concerning states, it might easily be put forward that the decisions taken in Geneva will also remain inconclusive just like the previous ones.    

-It might be said that the lack of a steady attitude on Syria during the meeting in Geneva could encourage Assad. In this period, whilst Assad carries on massacring in Syria, he would also take advantage of the crisis to survive by regionalizing it. In the recent period, the crisis with Turkey can be read within this framework.   

-Seeing that the crisis would remain inconclusive, the opposition forces would strive to get  organized in a better way and to further get armed in order to fight against the Assad regime. Of course, the civil war in Syria would become more intense in parallel with this. Meanwhile, there will be an acceleration in the process of supporting the opponents by the states which consider them to be right in every aspect.     

-While the conflicts in Syria are increasing with each passing day, the powers which cannot act within the frame of a joint action plan due to the fact that they look after their own interests on Syrian issue will dally over the decision taken in Geneva for a while as they did in  Annan Plan in the past. Meanwhile, it will be the Syrian people to suffer the most.

»» Assoc. Prof. Dr. Mehmet Şahin, ORSAM Middle East Advisor, Gazi University, Department of International Relations