The UN delegation led by Kofi Annan has completed the second round of talks with Syrian President Assad. The envoy said the mutual agreement between the government and the opposition would be hard to reach, but he is optimistic.
“It’s going to be tough. It’s going to be difficult but we have to have hope,” he told reporters in Damascus after the meeting, but added that he is “optimistic for several reasons.”
Kofi Annan is lobbying for a ceasefire to create windows through which humanitarian aid could be delivered to civilians suffering in the conflict.
His first round of talks also failed to reach any tangible resolution on the conflict. President Assad made it clear on Saturday that negotiations would not be open while “armed terrorist groups were still operating in the country.”
Likewise, the head of the opposition Hassan Abdulazin thanked the UN for their “efforts to find a solution to the crisis.” However, he stressed that “any negotiation for finding a transitional phase should be conducted after stopping violence, releasing prisoners and establishing a suitable environment.”
Meanwhile in Egypt, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov met with Arab League leaders and came up with a five-point plan for Syria geared towards promoting dialogue between Assad and the rebels.
It calls for an immediate ceasefire from both parties and the implementation of a foreign monitoring committee. This would pave the way for the delivery of humanitarian aid and lay the foundations for a political dialogue. The plan absolutely prohibits all foreign intervention.
US anti-war activist and journalist Don Debar told RT that the plan is “reasonable” in itself, but that is not enough for it to succeed.
“The question is basically will the armed insurgent groups agree to lay down their arms which is a key component,” he explained.
Speaking about the prospects for Kofi Annan’s peace mission in Syria, the journalist said that unfortunately “there is no environment for normal legal and political machinery to work” in the country.
Kofi Annan ‘living on Mars’
Before his arrival in Syria, opposition groups accused Kofi Annan of “living on Mars” after he called for negotiations with President Assad’s regime. Dr. Burhan Ghalioun, Paris-based chairman of the opposition Syrian National Council, decried Annan’s stance as “disappointing.”
Jason Ditz editor of Antiwar web project described the opposition’s unwillingness to enter into dialogue as “unsurprising” given that “a lot of them have put their eggs in one basket for international military intervention.”
“[Kofi Annan] is very much acting against the interests of these opposition groups,” he said to RT.
Mr. Ditz added that there was a possibility that Annan could push for a resolution, but highlighted that there were some “rebel factions that are so committed to the idea of foreign military intervention that they’re not going to be involved.”