SWP Comments, Vol. 10 (January 2014) – Geneva II: A Chance to Contain the Syrian Civil War
Internationally mediated talks between the Syrian regime and opposition are due to begin on 22 January 2014 in the Swiss resort of Montreux. Their objectives: to end the violence and initiate a negotiated transition in the war-ravaged country. However, it is still unclear whether it will be possible to gather all the relevant participants around the table, nor whether the conference will actually convene at all on the planned date. A realistic analysis of the local, regional and international conflicts of interest cautions pessimism in relation to Geneva II’s prospects of success. But the risk of further regional escalation, massive refugee movements and a catastrophic humanitarian situation make a meeting a matter of urgency. Small advances, such as an agreement on regional containment or a commitment by all warring parties to respect international humanitarian law and to grant humanitarian access, would nonetheless be meaningful. In the interests of the Syrian civilian population, Europe should see to it that the meeting provides room to negotiate such measures even if they fall short of a comprehensive political resolution.