Predictable issues have derailed ongoing negotiations over the Syrian conflict, with the opposition resuming fighting against the Syrian regime, which has repeatedly broken the cessation of hostilities agreement that was implemented in February. In addition to the continued Assad regime bombardment of forces ostensibly included in the ceasefire agreement, the primary issue that continues to sabotage the latest efforts to bring some semblance of calm to the war-torn country and resolution to the never-ending conflict, remains unchanged: fierce disagreement over the future of Bashar al-Assad’s criminal regime. Sincere efforts to bring the conflict to an end, or carve out a path that will lead to such a reality, will continue to fail so long as they involve negotiating with parties that demand Assad remain in power. Such a proposal dismisses the fact that the Assad regime’s failure to step down years ago remains the chief reason why Syria has spiralled into hell and allowed barbaric actors, including ISIS, to flourish.
Reuters reported that only three delegates from the opposition met UN special envoy Steffan de Mistura on 18 April, when typically 15 delegates do so. It is understandable that the opposition is considering completely pulling out of talks; the Syrian regime’s history of pretending to be interested in negotiations while stepping up their military campaign on the ground is well-documented.
There is no reason to assess the regime has moved away from that strategy at this stage. And with the Syrian military preparing a major offensive to attempt to seize all of Aleppo, a return to all out fighting appears inevitable in the near-term.
Assad’s latest signal that he has no immediate interest in stepping down was sent to Syrians and the international community when he held parliamentary elections in government-controlled areas this week. The latest election – as was the presidential vote held in 2014 – was of course a total sham.