US Foreign Policy

Can Syrian Talks Inch Forward?

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Although violence continues across Syria and the first round of the peace talks in Geneva yielded no progress, Syria expert Mona Yacoubian says that diplomacy is complex and negotiations will be “a months-long process.” With the next round of talks slated to begin February 10, Yacoubian says that if the Geneva process fails, the UN Security Council might succeed in getting Russia to pressure Damascus to allow humanitarian aid into the country. She recommends that regional powers such as Iran and Saudi Arabia be invited to take part in a parallel conference to try to ease regional tensions, and warns about the “downside risks” of U.S. military involvement.

The first round of the Geneva II peace talks on Syria lasted eight days and accomplished nothing, according to UN negotiator Lakhdar Brahimi. Is that your view as well?

The fact that they happened and lasted the duration they were supposed to last is important. The fact that both sides stayed is notable, but it was also very disappointing that nothing, not even some confidence-building measures, was accomplished, particularly on the humanitarian front. There was not even success in negotiating humanitarian access to the quarter of a million Syrians trapped in rebel-held areas. The Syrian government is not allowing humanitarian assistance to reach them.

To read the full transcript, click here.


This transcript appeared in the Council On Foreign Relations on Febuary 6, 2014.

Photo by Freedom House via Flickr

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