Syria Peace Talks Stumble at Start

Divisions over the future of strongman Bashar Assad quickly come to the fore

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Arnd Wiegmann / Reuters

Secretary of State John Kerry listens to U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon prior to peace talks in Montreux, Jan. 22, 2014.

Peace talks to end the almost-three-year civil war in Syria began Wednesday on a bitter and divisive note, with the top American diplomat ruling out any possibility that President Bashar Assad could stay in power while Syria accused Arab nations of financing terrorism.

The major players at the talks in Switzerland, including the United States, the Syrian government, Russia and the Syrian opposition, expressed sharp disagreements on issues ranging from Assad’s future to Iran’s exclusion from the conference, the New York Times reports. Secretary of State John Kerry took a firm stand as the gathering opened, saying Assad could play no role in a transitional government after the brutal treatment of Syrian civilians.

“We see only one option, negotiating a transition government born by mutual consent,” Kerry said. “That means that Bashar al-Assad will not be part of that transition government.

“The right to lead a country does not come from torture,” he added.

Kerry’s comments came shortly after shocking accusations of systematic torture on the part of the Assad regime. The Syrian opposition leader Ahmad Assi al-Jarba also said Assad could not be part of a transition government. But Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem accused Arab nations of funding terrorist rebel groups in Syria in a half-hour screed, as United Nations general secretary Ban Ki-Moon tried unsuccessfully to keep the delegate to speak only for the allotted seven minutes, the Times reports.

The start of the talks was accompanied by renewed clashes in the suburbs of Damascus and in other parts of Syria, the Associated Press reports.

Disputes also arose over whether Iran, which supports Assad, should be included in the talks after the United Nations withdrew an invitation to the at the request of the United States. Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey V. Lavrov argued for Iran’s inclusion, and he challenged Kerry’s insistence that Assad be excluded form a possible transitional administration.

[NYT]

26 comments
William Lowell Kees
William Lowell Kees

if we kill each other in the name of god?god will kill us all in the name of peace.

George W. Jordan
George W. Jordan

Prime Minister Stephen Harper of Canada is visiting Israel trying desperately to bring peace to the region, something the US has failed miserably at for many years, good luck Mr Prime Minister...

Monica Laursen
Monica Laursen

Mark: what is the purpose of your comment?? Let the naive bonesmen have our say

Monica Laursen
Monica Laursen

Is a president that kills his own people democratic?!

Monica Laursen
Monica Laursen

about time and dont until you find a way to end Assad horrorregime!!

Abdul Naeem Quraishi
Abdul Naeem Quraishi

Why don't you solve your own problems ? Show me a country the US has not messed up. Stupid Arabs and their white complexes.

Youcef Ali
Youcef Ali

It is deeper than you thought buddy...it is the failure of the US project in our country and the US wont admit that

Youcef Ali
Youcef Ali

sooner or later you will pay the price of your terror supporting all over the world ...we are a living people and love our president democracy ....and I want to tell the whole world that our president is legally elected by the Syrian people and we will do such an election untill death

Dan Tran
Dan Tran

In the 2016 Presidentil Election -The Canidate of The Republicans Will Be Jeb Bush The Canidate Of The Democrats Will Be Hillary Clinton Who Will Win ???? Only God Knows And Jesus And Dan Tran The First Prophet Univese Knows 1-19 -2014

Lucas Sheramont
Lucas Sheramont

The Affairs Of Men Must Sometimes Get Rid of the Idea Of Power.

Abdul Naeem Quraishi
Abdul Naeem Quraishi

What is there to talk ? He wouldn't' go they wouldn't leave. Let them fight.

Sibir_Russia
Sibir_Russia

From the point of view of international law in relations between the USA and Syria sovereign equality. Bashar Assad has not can  to dictate to John Kerry, who is eligible to become President in the USA and who did not. John Kerry, too, has no such authority to make decisions instead of the Syrians people.

 Bashar al-Assad has huge support in Syria, his rating is much higher than Barack Obama. The Syrians need to determine their destiny independently. It's their choice, because Syria is not a colony of the USA.

Tiger-Pi
Tiger-Pi

Secretary Kerry is right.  The US just cannot allow  Assad the  Wolf to continue to act as a 'shepherd'  of the  very same flock he has   savagely ravaged, gassed and bombed. The present talks however would achieve nothing if neighboring  nations that covertly support the conflict  on both sides like the Iranians,Saudis,Turks, Iraqis, Lebanese... are kept out.  The UN has to immediately deploy  international peace keeping troops in Syria to bring this brutal conflict to an end. 

jpcali
jpcali

@Sibir_Russia ah, if al-Assad is so popular and has a higher rating that Obama, why is there a civil war and so much killing in Syria and not in the USA ?  

Sibir_Russia
Sibir_Russia

@Tiger-Pi  

Bashar al-Assad will run for presidency in 2014.
Do you think the Syrian people not matured enough to elect the next President?
Or do you really think that Syria is a colony of the United States?

Sibir_Russia
Sibir_Russia

@jpcali@Sibir_Russia  

NATO Study: 70% of Syrians Support Syrian State and President al-Assad 

http://sana.sy/eng/22/2013/06/03/485493.htm

Jun 03, 2013

NATO data revealed that 70 percent of the Syrians support the Syrian state and President Bashar al-Assad.

The data, which was published by the U.S. newspaper "World Tribune" showed that the people in Syria are tired of the war against the foreign –backed opposition, "

" President al-Assad will win this war mainly because the people are cooperating with him," a Western source familiar with the data said.

The study, complied Western-sponsored activists and organizations, showed that 20 percent of the Syrians adopt neutral position while only 10 percent support the armed opposition.

The study added: " The Syrians were alarmed by the Al-Qaeda takeover of the opposition, underlining that what is left is the foreign fighters who are sponsored by Qatar and Saudi Arabia". 

Patriotic Song. Syria

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XG1grfO6hd0

Sibir_Russia
Sibir_Russia

@jpcali@Sibir_Russia
Stop the train, equip and support the terrorists who continue to penetrate into Syria from different countries and the war will end soon.

Rating of Bashar al-Assad higher than that of Barack Obama, about it write even the Western media. Say me name another presidential candidate in Syria, who do you think will rival Bashar Assad in the upcoming elections. Patriotic opposition in Syria is not afraid of elections. Fair elections in Syria afraid  Barack Hussein Obama and other enemies of Syria.