As Geneva III approaches, Geneva II Cesefire collapses
In late February, a partial truce agreement known as the “Cessation of Hostilities” was achieved between Russia and the United States in order to foster Geneva Peace Talks between different Syrians groups and move towards a political solution to the conflict. In order to better facilitate cohesion and capacity to negotiate on the opposition side, the Higher Negotiating Committee (HNC) was formed. However, as the Geneva Conference III on Syria is approaching – and as peace talks are expected to resume- there has been a complete collapse of the Geneva II ceasefire. In the last two weeks, all rebel-held areas have witnessed massive Russian airstrikes, shelling and bombing to the point that many activists and government officials feel that the there is little ability to have a component negotiation. Worse, the direct intervention of the Russian Airforce in conducting airstrikes in multiple civilian targets and US-backed rebels have severely hobbled the credibility of the UN-backed negotiations process. This comes as fifty-one State Department officials signed an official memo of dissent, critiquing the U.S. policy in Syria and calling for tougher action against the Assad Regime, after two years of American military operations in Syria, 400,000 Syrians dead and a refugee tragedy that is crashing over Europe.
Despite the higher death toll and the ever-deepening humanitarian crisis, indicators suggest that the conflict has evolved to a new level in which a defacto division of the country is occurring as a result of different armed groups being backed by the international community with little to no coordination. The question becomes, will Syria ever be able to be put back together again as a cohesive entity, or are we looking at a decades long battle for control of Syria’s identity as the international community continues to dither over what kind of central governance structure they are willing to accept?
Photo obtained from Indileak