Friday, December 11, 2015: The West’s efforts to unify the opposition parties in Syria for peaceful talks with President Bashar al-Asad’s government has started to show results. The opposing parties met in Saudi Arabia’s capital Riyadh in the refreshed round of talks to sort out a middle way to initiate negotiations with Syrian government.
It is not the first time the West has tried to bring all the opposing parties together, but it is the first time almost parties agreed to find a middle way to negotiate with al-Asad regime. The common condition for the talks from all parties had been Syrian President al-Asad’s stepping down, one of the demands from the US and its allies including Saudi Arab.
More than 100 dignitaries attended the meeting, representing several government opposing parties who are diversified in their own right. The parties range from exiles to dissidents, from liberals to ultra conservatives, and one of al-Qaeda’s affiliates working in Syria.
The talks are the second conspicuous omen that shows promising signs for an ultimate end to the five-year-old civil war in the region. Day before, the Syrian government lifted up its siege on Homs’ strategic city of Waer, where insurgents, militants and civilians had been holed up for the last three years, only allowed intermittent food supply.
Buses full of women, children and injured mostly were taken to the northern rebel-held province of Idlib and Hama. Some of the rebel fighters have stayed back as a part of the deal, until the demanded prisoners, held by the government, are released to the rebels. The deal was locally signed by Asad’s government and the rebel representatives.
The two days long talks in Riyadh ended on Thursday evening with almost all parties agreeing to the terms and conditions to start a negotiation process with the Syrian government to end the civil war that has taken the lives of 250,000 people and has resulted in the largest refugee influx into Europe. The refugee crises in Europe has also forced the Western countries to push further for a mediated peace talk process between the Rebels and the government.
Some of the conservative parties showed some reservations on the content of the agreement. The word democracy, for example, was replaced with democratic mechanism upon their requests. Another Islamist party Ahrar al-Sham threatened to walk out because the agreement did not represent Muslim identity in it.
Many extremist organizations like Islam Army on the other hand want an end to the bloodshed and now want a peaceful transition in the country.
“We did not take up arms to spill blood,” Mohammed Baerakdar, a representative of the Islam Army said. “We took up arms to spare blood.”
The meager disagreements in the talks do not come as a surprise to the internationals community. The biggest breakthrough however, has been the final agreement signed by all the parties present.
Al-Asad’s government has been strongly backed by Russia and Iran and the two have always alleged the diversification of the opposing parties to be the hurdle in the peace talk process. This agreement will send a strong reply to both Russia and Iran and may force the Syrian government to the table for talks.