Sunday 29 May 2022 | 12:23 | SYDNEY
Sunday 29 May 2022 | 12:23 | SYDNEY

Syria: It all in the wording


Rodger Shanahan


2 July 2012 13:53

One could be forgiven for thinking that an agreement had been hammered out and that international unity had triumphed over regional rivalries in the wake of the recent Geneva conference on Syria. Our own ABC announced that 'an international deal had been reached on peace for Syria', while The Guardian in the UK reported that the plan '...sounded the death knell for the Assad regime'.

The reality is that those who matter (the people who are supposed to come up with a transitional plan) have been dismissive of the whole exercise. 

Of course, while the Syrian Government is unified and the Syrian opposition is not, it is difficult to achieve the 'mutual agreement' called for by the communique about the makeup of the transitional government. So while Secretary of State Hillary Clinton claimed that the plan effectively spelt the end of any role for Bashar al-Assad because he would not meet the 'mutual consent' test, she could not say which part of the opposition would give its consent. 

Based on their statements, it would appear the Syrian National Council are not fans of the deal, calling it 'ambiguous', 'a farce' and '..the worst international statement yet to emerge from talks on Syria'. The Syrian-based Local Coordination Committees were equally dismissive, as was the Syrian Government

Much was made of Russia's willingness to consider the possibility of a transitional government, but this was more likely a hedging strategy from Moscow and largely a victory, as Russia appeared to give ground on political transition while removing any reference in the communique to Assad being forced from office. 

In a delightful reprise of old Soviet claims of supporting the political demands of the people over Western interests, Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov tweeted that Western 'partners' wanted to decide the outcome of the political process instead of the Syrian people. At least he referred to the West as 'partners' rather than 'powers'.

That's the problem with a communique without a plan; it just ends up being words on a page.

Photo courtesy of the United Nations.