Syria peace talks delayed 'to benefit regime'

Syria peace talks delayed 'to benefit regime'
2 min read
19 February, 2016
Following Steffan de Mistura's comments that Syria peace talks will be further delayed, opposition figures said that the postponement has been made in the service of the regime and Russia.
Opposition figures have said the postponement of talks is in Russia's interests [AFP]
UN special envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura says peace talks won't resume in Geneva on February 25 as he had previously hoped.

De Mistura told Swedish newspaper Svenska Dagbladet that he cannot "realistically" get the parties in the Syrian conflict back to the table by then, "but we intend to do so soon."

De Mistura halted the latest talks on February 5 purportedly because of major differences between the two sides, exacerbated by increased aerial bombings and military action on the ground.

In an interview published late Thursday on Svenska Dagbladet's website, he said, "we need real talks about peace, not just talks about talks. Now the Americans and Russians must sit down and agree on a concrete plan on the cessation of hostilities."

However, the Syrian opposition feels that the talks have been extended in the service of Russia.

"Moscow still has not completed its goal yet and the Syrian regime is benefitting from the bombing making a number of advances," Aqab Yehya, a member of the Syrian National Coalition told The New Arab, adding that this shows a lack of interest in serious negotiations.

Since de-Mistura suspended the first round of negotiations, the Syrian regime has made a number of advances against opposition forces.

"Setting the date, the 25th, was a hasty move as it did not take into consideration the continuation of the talks," Samir Nashar, member of the opposition delegation said.

"There are still a number of issues in disagreement over the political transition process leading to growing distance between the Syrian regime and the opposition," Nashar added.

"There are still disagreements between Geneva 1 conference and the regime over the foundation of the transitional governing body."

Nashar said that as the regime attempts to achieve complete control of Azaz - a town near the Turkish border who’s fall could mean a cut off in supplies to rebel forces - the resumption of negotiations is “useless” and that de Mistura’s delay demonstrates further international collaboration between the US and Russia.

The official spokesman for the Syrian opposition delegation, Riad Agha told The New Arab that they are still considering whether to partipate in the Riyadh meeting, next week.

"The situation is difficult, and we are awaiting developments," he said.

Analysts have commented that the regime and Russia will attempt to take rebel held areas in Syria, predominantly in Daraa and Aleppo, before agreeing to a ceasefire in order consolidate control over remaining opposition groups.