Geneva II, the international conference starting on the 22nd January in Switzerland to find a political solution to the conflict in Syria faces an almost impossible task. Yet, with more than 100 thousand people killed, millions displaced and the country in ruins, any attempt to stop the bloodshed is worth pursuing.
By now, it should have become clear to all sides that no military solution exists in Syria. The plans based on the assumption that Assad regime would collapse have already backfired with tragic consequences. The stalemate between the government and its opponents may even be turning into Assad regime gaining ground.
The regime in Damascus has committed unspeakable atrocities, with no end in sight to its brutality against its people.
The radical opposition, too, has shown that they can match Assad forces in their atrocities against civilians.
Rebel groups in the north of the country have been also battling with each other. The rise of al-Qaeda linked groups throughout Syria and the presence of foreign fighters on the ground have forced the backers of the opposition to revise their approach to the Syrian civil war.
The deeply divided rebellion against the Assad regime has failed to come up with a credible vision of a post-Assad Syria.
Their regional backers, among them Turkey, have sought their own interests, often ending up fuelling the conflict.
The end result is a humanitarian catastrophe. The situation in the country has now reached a stage that if the deterioration continues, there will be no Syria to save.
Outside forces alone cannot bring peace to Syria. Syrians, both the government and the opponents of Bashar Assad will have to decide whether and when they want this conflict to end.
As in every conflict-resolution, they will first have to acknowledge each other, develop credible, workable strategies and sit down to talk.
Right now, what is needed in Syria, first and foremost, is a ceasefire; so that the much needed humanitarian aid can be delivered to where it is needed.
Either in Geneva or elsewhere, outside parties must prioritise getting the warring sides to agree to a humanitarian access.
Whilst it is not realistic to expect the key regional players to be absent from any peace effort, the less influence they have in Syrian conflict the better. Increased international involvement, forcing the Gulf States, Iran and Turkey to become more transparent with their support to either the regime or the opposition would be a good thing.
Delivering humanitarian aid to Syrian civilians is not the job of regional intelligent agencies. In this context, the delivery of aid to Syria by the Turkish Intelligence Agency MIT suggests this aid is humanitarian in name only.
On Sunday, days after multi-city raids against Al-Qaeda suspects linked to radical elements in Syria, the Turkish security forces stopped and searched seven trucks near the Syrian border suspected to be loaded with weapons. Like the previous week, the government interfered and stopped the search.
The local governor’s office later issued a statement saying all personnel on the vehicles belonged to Turkey’s National Intelligence Organisation (MIT) .
The spokesman for the governing Justice and Development Party, Huseyin Celik went on tv screens to say “The material in the truck is nobody’s business”.
Playing politics with aid, waging a covert war in the name of humanitarianism is a dangerous path to follow.
Turkey isn’t the only country. Other regional actors are all at it.
These misguided policies are not only fuelling the flames in Syria but they are destroying the fundamental principles of international humanitarian law.
In the case of Turkey, it is also making already murky waters of the internal politics even muddier.
This post is also available in: Turkish