The international community will meet once again in Geneva on Saturday for another “performance” focusing on the Syrian crisis. Representatives of dozens of countries, including the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council, will attend the gathering together with Syrian opposition leaders.
Similar to talks between Western powers and Iran over the Islamic republic’s nuclear program, talks concerning the situation in Syria appear as nothing more than a carnival, the real purpose of which is to postpone military intervention in the country. For now, this carnival is bringing down cities, not regimes.
Moscow succeeded in ruining the meeting on Saturday even before it begins. Special U.N. and Arab League envoy Kofi Annan is promoting a new plan to establish a transitional government in Syria consisting of representatives of both the current regime, minus Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, and the opposition. But “Russia cannot support a proposal that is dictated by an external body,” Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Thursday.
Moscow prefers the same approach with Syria as it does with Iran: negotiations instead of tears. But Lavrov is disappointed in Tehran for not participating in talks regarding Syria.
Moscow’s approach received support from NATO General Knud Bartels in Tallinn, Estonia on Thursday. The general said that the northern alliance would not attack Syria or Iran as long as all diplomatic avenues have not yet been exhausted. If anyone is wondering why Assad and his wife have not yet packed their bags, the general’s statement provides a serious clue.
Even if Geneva, despite its wonderful Swiss watches, does not provide a date for Assad’s departure, he will eventually be forced to step down. The question is when and at what price. Turkey may not be banging the war drums yet, but since Syria shot down one of its Phantom planes, it has toughened its stance and will not hesitate to avenge the loss of the plane at the first opportunity.
Saudi Arabia and Qatar continue to arm Syrian opposition forces, but the problem is that they are dealing with two different opposition groups that are hostile to each other. Both groups however, together with Turkey, may in the end deliver the salvation the Syrian opposition is hoping for. Neither Geneva nor pre-election Washington will provide that salvation, especially since the U.S. is busy celebrating the victory of democracy in Egypt.
In the meantime, 69 additional people were added to the list of victims ahead of the Geneva talks. Perhaps the fine Swiss chocolate can serve as a consolation for the delegations, enabling them to feel their attendance at the meeting was not totally in vain after all.