Kerry-Lavrov Meeting Brings Hope for Syria

For the first time, the US showed flexibility on its stance as Kerry hoped to get something out of the peace conference.

Kerry-SyriaIn an amazing turn of events, the United States showed flexibility towards the Syrian crisis and agreed upon arranging a peace conference, in collaboration with Russia, in a bid to find a possible end to the civil war in Syria.

After a recent meeting with his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, US Secretary of State John Kerry reached an agreement on arranging a peace conference at the end of this month. The proposal stipulated that both Russia and the United States would ensure that Syrian rebels and the Syrian government attend the conference.

It is interesting to note that both states share opposing views on the conflict. The US and its allies have been accused of supporting the rebels while Moscow and Beijing have supported Bashar Assad’s regime.

Apparently, it seems that the proposed conference aims to formulate a transition plan similar to that proposed by Kofi Annan last year. However that plan was never implemented because it provided no clear future for Assad.

Speaking to the media, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said:

“At the conference that we are proposing to convene, Russia and the United States consider it necessary to work with the aim of convincing representatives of both the government and the opposition to together determine how they can fully implement the Geneva Communique.”

For the first time, the US showed flexibility on its stance as Kerry hoped to get something out of the peace conference. His statements suggested that even Washington is now worried about the uncontrollable situation in Syria.

Alongside Lavrov, Kerry Said, “The alternative (to a negotiated solution) is that there is even more violence. The alternative is that Syria heads closer to an abyss, if not over the abyss and into chaos”

The conflict in Syria has persisted for nearly two years with no signs of slowing down

To this day, the Syrian Civil War has taken more than 90,000 lives according to various estimates, with a few even saying that this death toll may even be as much as 120,000.

With the US modifying its stance, Moscow appears to be showing a slightly varied position. According to Lavrov, Russia is not concerned about the future of Assad, but the overall future of Syria.

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The Syrian crisis has also exacerbated the growing divide between East and West. The Western bloc is supporting the rebels and their future role in government, while the Eastern bloc supports a more democratic line advocating for Syrians to choose their next government.

With the United Nations recently reporting the use of chemical weapons by the rebels on civilians, the role of rebel supporters — especially the US, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and their allies-becomes more dubious. On the other hand, the Shia-Sunni divide among the Muslims is also seemingly imminent. Saudi Arabia, and its closest ally Qatar, seem hell-bent on fueling the insurgency against Shia Assad, who is supported by Shia Iran.

According to a New York Times report, Saudi Arabia along with Turkey are in close cooperation seeking help from the CIA for supplying arms to the anti-regime Rebels in Syria. Britain is also on record for announcing a multi-million pound financial assistance to rebels to help them fight against the rebels. With such a deadly nexus of religious and extremist forces, any smooth transition or a possible solution to Syrian problem in the near future seems a distant proposition.

Keeping the current situation in mind, the only viable solutions seems to be the Annan Plan presented last year in a bid to stop the civil war, though the regime was not willing to accept it. All the national and international stakeholders on Syria make sure that any plan for a new government shall be represented by both the regime as well as the opposition. It will be interesting to see the outcome of the proposed peace conference, as it would be hard for both Assad and rebels to compromise on their stated positions and reach a consensus.

Farooq Yousaf is a research analyst, program consultant and content editor at the Centre for Research and Security Studies, Islamabad along with pursuing his higher Studies at the Willy Brandt School of Public Policy in Germany. He can be reached at farooq@crss.pk, or farukyusaf@gmail.com. Read other articles by Farooq.

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