No country for one man

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, left, talks to Saudi Arabia's Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal, 2nd left, as U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, right, walks past prior to peace talks in Montreux, Switzerland, Wednesday, Jan. 22, 2014. (AP Photo/Arnd Wiegmann,Pool)

The long-awaited “Geneva II” conference kicked off Wednesday in Switzerland, presenting a window into the thinking of the Syrian regime at this crucial moment in the country’s modern history when Syria is in tatters.

For nearly the last three years the authorities have doggedly pursued an “iron fist” solution to a peaceful, civilian-led uprising, with the result being death, destruction and brutalization on a scale that has horrified the civilized world.

And while millions of Syrians remain anxious about their future and the future of their country, the official Syrian delegation to the talks in Montreux delivered a firm, obstinate message, namely that the only future worth talking about is that of a single individual: President Bashar Assad.

The invitation to Montreux that was extended to Iran this week was rescinded because Tehran has not endorsed “Geneva I,” namely the establishment of a transitional political authority. However, the Syrian regime’s stance itself shows that it also rejects such a notion, with the official delegation clinging only to the mantra of “Bashar Assad is a red line.”

The regime delegation showed not a bit of interest in finding solutions to the terrible humanitarian and other problems faced by average Syrians; they showed themselves to be dedicated to the interests of a single person and his cronies, and not their fellow Syrian citizens.

Assad’s political future and a healthy, prosperous future for Syria are simply incompatible – the entire world knows this and the less time that is wasted on exercises in speechmaking such as Geneva II, the better.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on January 23, 2014, on page 7.




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