Recently, the Russian government has been pushing for an end to the Syrian conflict. Russia’s foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov fears that if the conflict continues any further, there will be “mutual destruction” and a conflict that is leading to no resolution (Al Jazeera). Russia has been adamant about stopping the fighting and has even proposed to host talks between the two sides. Lavrov is expecting to host Syria’s Foreign Minister, Walid Muallem on Monday. Later in March, another talk will be hosted in Moscow with Mouaz al-Khatib, the Syrian National Coalition leader.
The Syrian conflict started in March 2011 and has gradually escalated over the years. The UN is weary of Syria turning a humanitarian crisis as stated on Tuesday. Both sides have been pushing for a military advantage. The Aleppo airport in Damascus has become an area of focus in the Syrian conflict, resulting in a stalemate between Assad and rebel forces.
This delegation between the two sides will be watched closely as Lavrov mentioned he did not want any side to make conditions for each other. His main goal he states is to “create conditions for the start of the direct dialogue” (Al Jazeera). However, this will not be easy. The Russian government still keeps close ties with Bashar Hafez al-Assad and have not made an effort to stop military cooperation with Damascus. These relations between the Russia and Assad may make possible delegation talks with Mouaz al-Khatib difficult. Despite these difficulties, the efforts of organizing talks between the two groups displays sentiments of other international actors to end the conflict quickly before the situation worsens. The Aleppo airport is still considered a “safe” place for Assad’s forces, acting as an outlet for the government to maintain presence in Syria. However, with the conflict gradually worsening, Aleppo appears as an obstacle to peace talk.
The presence of foreign aid is also a problem with unknown outcomes. The UN declared Syria a crisis, with four million people in need of aid. Yet, there has not been any push to send UN forces in. Rebel areas have remained largely out of reach, specifically in the northern regions despite an overall increase aid efforts (Al Jazeera) With the predictions the UN is making and Russia’s adamant push toward delegations, it will be interesting to view the decisions both sides of the Syrian conflict will make in the upcoming months.
“Russia warns of ‘mutual destruction’ in Syria.” Al Jazeera 20 February 2013. 20 February 2013