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Fractured opposition renders Syria talks futile: Analyst

The United Nations (UN) Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura (C-L) sits facing Syria’s opposition groups during Syrian peace talks at the UN Offices in the Swiss city of Geneva, February 1, 2016. (Photo by AFP)

Press TV has interviewed Mark Weber, California-based director of Institute for Historical Review, about the involvement of Syrian anti-government groups in the UN-brokered Geneva peace talks that seek to end the years-long bloodletting in the Arab country.

Press TV: Looking at this shuttle diplomacy that [UN Special Envoy for Syria Staffan] de Mistura is conducting between the Syrian government and members of the so-called High Negotiation Committee, can we expect anything more than just localized ceasefires to result from these talks?

Weber: Right, localized ceasefires or perhaps agreements about humanitarian aid to civilians might be possible but unfortunately, the prospects for success overall in this peace talks in Geneva to end the Syria conflict are very slim.

In fact, one Western diplomat was quoted by the Reuters news agency as describing the talks as a complete failure before they had even started. There are just many many great obstacles to any real success in negotiating an end to this terrible conflict.

Press TV: I like to pick up on that point, as far as these talks are doomed to failure from the onset, why is that one deciding factor that created that kind of condition?

Weber: There are several factors; one is that the opposition is very unrealistic and itself very divided. The groups that oppose the Syrian government are themselves very divided and have as much distrust in some cases of each other as they do with the Syrian government.

Also, some of the opposition groups, of course, are unacceptable even to US and European leaders. They themselves are by any normal standard of the word even terroristic.

More fundamentally, the negotiations are unlikely to be successful because the opposition groups, [which] in spite of their ability to kill people and have a military presence on the ground, have no real credible broad base of popular and public support and it is just unrealistic that there is going to be negotiations of any kind of equality between these sides given just how fractured and how unrepresentative the opposition groups are.

Press TV: Well, this has been a grievance that the Syrian government has aired many times in the past as well. So, where does this leave the situation in Syria and the people who are hoping for some sort of respite or hoping for some sort of peace?

Weber: Of course, it is very tragic; and not only the people in Syria but the world has an interest in trying to bring this conflict to an end.

The European countries alone -- European leaders are especially eager to try to bring this suffering somehow to an end, because the chaos, the disorder, the suffering and the misery in Syria is a major factor behind the massive influx of refugees and migrants from Syria into Europe which itself is threatening to bring down basically the European Union and cooperation between the European states.

The world has an interest in bringing an end to this conflict, but of course the only outside… Syrian government has support from Russia, it has support from Iran and realistically there is not going to really be a solution except on the basis somehow of the existing Syrian government which is, in spite of everything, by far the most important political and military factor in the country.


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