Now, Now! ... not Tomorrow
The fate of the eighth round of the Geneva negotiations still seems uncertain up to now, indicated by the delay of the government delegation to catch up with Geneva, and the extremists of the Riyadh platform being in hurry to recall and insist on the preconditions on the eve of the second half of the round, which was the pretext of the government delegation in the first half of the round, and served as a justification for its delay to the scheduled date, so that it returned early to Damascus.
This scene means that the issue of direct negotiations, as was planned, has become a subject of friction, between the position of the government delegation, and the position of the «Riyadh platform»... So how to get out of this situation?
We believe that the ball is now in the court of the international envoy. He is the only one capable of settling down the existing friction, by relying on the international resolution 2254 and providing assurances that it will not be exceeded by any party. The facilitator is now required to declare the objection to the precondition included in the “Riyadh Statement”, and the insistence on the presence of the government delegation at the same time. That is, the facilitator is required to play his functional role to maintain the negotiating process, and to push it forward, and proceed direct negotiations, especially that the international consensus on this process has become completed, according to official statements by all the international and regional forces involved.
The Syrian national interest requires immediate negotiation, reaching a consensus formula, avoiding any pretext-seeking rhetoric, and not missing this historic opportunity. The more delay in direct negotiations, the more the solution is delayed, and every delay in the solution means extra costs on Syria and the Syrians, especially that all parties can propose whatever they find it appropriate, and can accept or reject propositions on the negotiating table itself, and they are all ultimately doomed to reach a consensus.
The legitimate right of rejecting preconditions does not mean rejection of the negotiation itself. Rather, it is possible to transform the battle against the preconditions into a part of the negotiating process itself, especially since this whole process is ultimately the implementation of the international resolution, which was based on consensus in letter and spirit. Therefore, the rejection of preconditions, and their removal from circulation, may be easier during this process. And contrary to the illusions of those who pose them, these preconditions can be turned into a weakness – rather than a strength – of those who keep holding them.
Now that the Geneva train has arrived at this station (the station of the direct negotiation), the return to the past is forbidden, and any new obstacles – as was the case with all previous obstacles from any party – will quickly bounce back on the obstructers themselves, and further weaken their negotiating position. No one should forget that the general trend has become clear, and that the party (which was able to push the train, away from the sites of “Quell vs. Overthrow” [i.e. either overthrowing the regime by force, or quelling the opposing uprisings], and passing through the Astana Process, and the De-escalation Areas, and extermination of the fascist terrorist forces, and which has “convinced” all of the international and regional forces to accept the political solution as the only solution), that same party is able to deliver the process to its logical conclusion: the consensual political solution, as an entrance to put the issue in the hands of the Syrians, so that they self-determine their fate and the fate of their own country.
Kassioun Editorial, Issue No 840, Dec. 10, 2017