“Agreement on a Syria-led transition based on mutual consent including members of the current government” was the conclusion UN-Arab League peace envoy Kofi Annan reported from the Action Group on Syria meeting in Geneva Saturday, June 30.
He admitted this process could take a whole year. Asked by reporters if people with blood on their hands should be eligible to serve in a transitional unity government, Annan managed to continue avoiding mentioning Assad by commenting that there were many in Syria’s bitter conflict with blood on their hands.
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton asserted that Assad would never pass the “mutual consent” test because of the blood on his hands and must realize that his days are numbered. She praised the Geneva meeting for setting out a road map paving the way to a post-Assad government.
She was quickly countered by Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, who stressed that the Geneva documents contained nothing about imposed solutions. It is up to the Syrians themselves to work out their process of transition, he said. The governments meeting in Geneva had each undertaken to apply leverage to the parties they support – in a coordinated way – so as to make them sit down at the negotiating table.
Behind the Kofi Annan’s diplomatic prevarications, it was clear that the Action Group meeting, attended by the five permanent Security Council members and Arab League representatives, had left US-Russian differences over Assad firmly in place and both would carry as before:
The US, in conjunction with Persian Gulf governments, will continue to prepare for military action and look for “creative” ways to topple Assad outside the UN Security Council where Russia stands ready with a veto.
Moscow will stick to its efforts to preserve the Syrian ruler and his regime disguising them by calling for a government in Damascus that represents the will of the Syrian people.
Peace envoy Annan will be kept running back and forth between the two mutually exclusive policies and policies and paths for his mission to get anywhere. As he himself said, mediation is a process which takes time. But that time is being used by the Syria ruler to expand his violence and notch up the fatalities, which in the last fortnight shot past the 100 per day figure to reach a total of 15,800 in the 15-month conflict and going up all the time.