I share the following view by the Antiwar Committee in Solidarity with the Struggle for Selfdetermination but the important question is how can any decisions arising from the negotiations be enforced and maintained without a military force on the ground that is committed to enforcing and maintaining the transition.
The question of ‘boots on the ground’ needs to be tackled pro-actively by the governments and the UN that established the opportunity presented by the coming negotiations.
Boots on the ground that are sympathetic to the Syrian people would make delivery of humanitarian supplies more likely on the scale that is required.
Apart from needing to protect Syrians from the likes of Daesh, a military coalition on the ground (and backed by air support) will be necessary to guarantee that people can vote freely and to protect the Assad loyalists among the Alawite community once he is tossed out.
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We support efforts by the High Negotiations Committee of the Syrian Opposition to negotiate a political settlement which will lead to a transitional governing body, and to human rights for all, rule of law, and democracy for Syria. Given the scale of documented atrocities carried out by the Assad regime, it follows that such a process must bring an end to regime rule.
We further support the demand by the High Negotiations Committee that the international community implement in full the humanitarian provisions of UN Security Council Resolution 2254 prior to negotiations.
The current Geneva III Conference has begun against a background of escalating Russian and regime bombardment of populated areas and civilian infrastructure, escalating starvation sieges, and ongoing mass detention and torture of political prisoners.
UN Security Council Resolution 2254, which set out the international endorsement for these talks, called on the parties to “allow immediate, humanitarian assistance to reach all people in need, in particular in all besieged and hard-to-reach areas, release any arbitrarily detained persons, particularly women and children,” and demanded the full implementation of the long list of unenforced Security Council resolutions on Syria: 2139 (2014), 2165 (2014), 2191 (2014) and any other applicable resolutions.
Resolution 2254 further demanded “that all parties immediately cease any attacks against civilians and civilian objects as such, including attacks against medical facilities and personnel, and any indiscriminate use of weapons, including through shelling and aerial bombardment.”
These items are the express will of the Security Council and as such are not for negotiation between parties. The international community should never preside over a process where humanitarian relief is allowed to be used as a card in political negotiation.
As long as the international community fails to enforce its own resolutions, the Syrian people can have little faith in the peace process. If the international community can’t deliver baby milk to besieged areas, how can they be trusted to deliver free and fair elections?
For peace talks to succeed, the international community must implement the humanitarian provisions of its own UN Security Council Resolution 2254 in full