In late March, US Secretary of State John Kerry announced while meeting with Vladimir Putin in Moscow that the US and Russia would work together to draft a new constitution for Syria with an August deadline. No further official information has been given about this plan, but the timing of the announcement and deadline marks a shift in the terms of the Syria peace talks – namely, that a true transitional period might no longer be endorsed by the international powers involved in the conflict. As the International Syria Support Group (ISSG), co-chaired by the US and Russia, meets again in Vienna, this makes it even more likely that President Bashar al-Assad would remain part of any new Syrian government.… Seguir leyendo »
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Recent events have indicated that some form of division of Syria is increasingly becoming a possibility. Earlier this week, the main Syrian Kurdish faction, the Democratic Union Party (PYD), declared a federal region in the areas they control in the north. Russia’s withdrawal of the majority of its forces appears to confirm that regaining regime control of the whole country was never Vladimir Putin’s objective. While spokesmen from both Russia and the US today said that only negotiations between Syrians can decide on whether the country will adopt a federal system, statements in recent weeks by American and Russian leaders have implied that a federal option could be put on the table at the Geneva talks.… Seguir leyendo »
For more than a month, large protests throughout Lebanon have been gaining size and momentum, driven by the announcement that the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), which provides services and relief to Palestinian refugees, will no longer cover the cost of regular hospital visits for Palestinians in Lebanon. This move has been interpreted as representing a wider decline in the fortunes of Palestinians in Lebanon and the resulting protests recently culminated in the shutdown of the agency’s offices in Beirut. While the protests have been non-violent, if these grievances are unaddressed, a combination of factors, including some linked to the war in Syria, could lead Palestinians in Lebanon to decide that violence is the only tool at their disposal to attain their humanitarian and political needs.… Seguir leyendo »
Support for Syria’s neighbouring states in tackling the long-term challenges posed by the spillover of the conflict is welcome. Yet, funding pledges for humanitarian support − like those at this week’s donor conference in London − are being fundamentally undermined by developments on the battlefield and the fraying political situation in neighbouring countries. The breakdown of talks in Geneva indicates that the situation will get worse before it gets better.Political progress difficult to see
The divide between the humanitarian and the political is painfully apparent in the contrast between the hope espoused by leaders at the London donor conference and the acrimony expressed by those at the talks in Geneva.… Seguir leyendo »