The Syrian conflict has consumed the attention of recent media for much of last decade. With over 300,000 deaths due to the barbaric conflict in the Middle Eastern nation, there is an urgent need for such atrocities to end. However, it is easier said than done.
In a promising sign, peace talks have commenced in Astana, Kazakhstan this week. It will hopefully mark a clear attempt to restore a sense of normality to Aleppo and other affected Syrian areas. Aside from the Syrian government and opposing rebel groups’ representatives, Russian, Iranian, and Kazakhstani officials are striving to push peace negotiations along.
Day one of these talks proved to be controversial as Bashar Jaafari (government negotiator) and Mohammed Alloush (rebel group negotiator) exchanged harsh words. Notedly, Mr. Alloush labeled the Syrian government as a ‘terrorist entity,’ and in return, Mr. Jaafari branded this statement as one removed from diplomacy.
Negotiations continued to intensify through the day as both parties accused each other of violating the Aleppo ceasefire, a deal coined by Russian and Turkish officials.
Mr. Alloush was clear in his continued attack at the government, by saying that “a political solution in Syria is our choice but it is not the only one because we fight for our rights; our right to live; the right of freedom; the right to decide our fate and the people’s right to decide who will represent them”.
His statement highlights the rebel group’s willingness to continue to use combative measures in Syria, should the government be non-complicit in Astana. However, this cannot be ethically recommended by any partaking party due to the already devastating effects of the war. Aside from the rising number of deaths, over 11 million Syrians have been displaced, thereby causing refugee chaos across the nation and further into Turkey.
Despite this unnerving start, it is the first time armed forces (excluding terrorist organizations) have sat down to discuss the future of Syria. The international community is eagerly anticipating some success at the round table, especially as attempted peace talks fell through in Geneva last year.
However, they are due to recommence later in the year, whereby the United Nations officials will be hoping that substantial progress will have been made in Astana.
The path to peace is not easy, especially considering that certain terrorist organizations, such as ISIS, are not participating this week. However, it is important to recognize and advocate for continued and soft diplomatic measures whilst the conflict ensues.