‘Talks’ and killing fields

U.N. Special Representative Lakhdar Brahimi, left, arrives for his press briefing at the United Nations headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland, Friday, Jan. 31, 2014. (AP Photo/Anja Niedringhaus)

A week of rhetoric and tension has finally concluded in Switzerland, and Syria’s warring sides are no closer to moving in a direction that may bring relief for Syrians.

As the Geneva II talks sputtered along and spread confusion over why the event was staged in the first place, nearly 2,000 people lost their lives to the violence raging in Syria. The sponsors of Geneva were undoubtedly happy to “bring both sides to the table,” but perhaps they forgot that what these sides actually accomplish at the table is of life-and-death importance for millions of Syrians around the world.

With the regime of President Bashar Assad enjoying unlimited support from Russia, and the opposition subject to a complex series of pressures and demands from its various allies, it was no surprise that the regime’s delegation was uninterested in talking about anything of substance. Geneva produced no humanitarian relief for residents of the city of Homs, only more “barrel bomb” horror for the cities of Aleppo, Daraya and elsewhere.

As Geneva II was convening in beautiful Switzerland, the ugly truths of the last three years only piled up: entire neighborhoods razed to the ground by the regime; thousands arbitrarily detained, tortured and killed; hunger used cavalierly as a weapon of war; and stalling on the commitment to eliminate chemical weapons stockpiles.

In return for these violations by the regime, the international community is content to apply band aids and aspirin to the victims of the brutality, and prepare talking points about the next round of talks – when several thousand more Syrians probably won’t be around to watch.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on February 01, 2014, on page 7.




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