Fledgling efforts to promote peace talks in the Syrian conflict appear to have stalled, even as the death toll rises daily and the rebellion nears its second anniversary.
The major exile opposition group, irate over what it calls a “shameful” global silence about the bloodshed, has announced that it will not attend several planned international gatherings on Syria, spurning invitations to visit Russia and the United States. Both nations have said that they favor negotiations as a means to end the violence in Syria.
The National Coalition of Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces has also opted to “suspend” its participation in a meeting in Rome next month of the so-called Friends of Syria alliance, which includes the United States and dozens of other nations that have bankrolled the opposition.
The coalition’s protest moves — combined with its demand that any talks lead to the ouster of Syrian President Bashar Assad — would seem to scuttle already faint hope of negotiations. The Syrian regime has categorically rejected any talks that mandate Assad’s removal from power.
The opposition bloc assailed what it called international inaction in the face of recent attacks by government-launched Scud missiles on the northern city of Aleppo.
“Hundreds of helpless civilians are being martyred due to [being] bombed with Scud rockets,” the coalition said in a statement Friday.
Unverified video said to be from an Aleppo district hit by a Scud on Friday showed residents desperately trying to find survivors in the wreckage of a flattened building. Elated rescuers finally pulled a dazed boy in a blue shirt from the debris. The attack killed 29 civilians, 19 of them children, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based opposition group.
The dissidents’ denunciations of what they characterize as global dithering seem designed to pressure the West to acquiesce to demands for stepped-up arms deliveries to the rebels. But many experts see such an outcome as unlikely.
“The opposition has every reason to be frustrated with an international community that has endlessly expressed concern about the killing while doing virtually nothing to bring it to an end,” said Peter Harling, an analyst with the International Crisis Group. “But in international affairs, sulking rarely is a successful strategy.” Continue reading