Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has emphasized Russia’s red line with regards to terrorism, saying that “a dialog with terrorist groups fighting in Syria will not be held under any circumstance”.
Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani backed up Russia’s position in an interview on CNN, saying that “the first step for solving the crisis in Syria lies in expelling terrorists”.
Meanwhile, UN/AL envoy to Syria, Lakhdar Brahimi has held talks with both the Syrian government’s and the foreign-backed opposition and indicates that talks continue in Geneva on Monday.
In February 2013 a US veto to a Russian sponsored UN Security Council resolution, condemning all forms of terrorism, regardless by whom and under which circumstances they are being committed, threw the two partners for peace into a state of diplomatic deep freeze.
Rusia drafted the resolution, following a devastating terrorist attack in Damascus, and Lavrov responded to the US veto by blasting the US administration for double standards.
On Sunday, in Geneva, the Russian Foreign Minister underlined Russia’s red line with regards to terrorism, saying:
“A dialog with terrorist groups fighting in Syria will not be held under any circumstance. … We refuse holding a dialog with terrorist groups, it is against our principles, and we wouldn’t advise others to do that. … The negotiation process has no room for groups like Jabhat al-Nusrah, the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS), and other branches of the al-Qaeda organization. … Finding a solution for the humanitarian crisis in Syria will be sure to promote confidence in the Geneva II negotiations”.
Sergei Lavrov recalled the words of the British Prime Minister, David Cameron, at the 2013 G8 summit in Northern Ireland, when Cameron called for addressing the Syrian government and the opposition for cooperation in eradicating terrorism from Syria.
Lavrov emphasized, that considering the scale of the terrorism that is endemic to Syria and Iraq, the eradication of it must be considered a prime priority. Without mentioning the United States in particular, the Russian Foreign Minister deconstructed recent attempts of the US administration to position certain of the terrorist organizations as good or moderate and worth supporting, while positioning others as radical and extremist, by including both the ISIS and “any other al-Qaeda brigades” in his denunciation of terrorism.
The Russian Foreign Minister added, that reaching a political accord between the government and the national secular opposition, in addition to helping them unite in the face of terrorism in parallel to the political settlement is the aspired goal. Lavrov said:
“Many inquiries are supposed to be directed to ‘the Islamic Front’ which has been founded recently combining two or three groups involved in Adra massacre, so it is hard to be conceived as part of peace talks. … We should not say that it is possible to negotiate with gunmen just because they moved to ‘the Islamic Front’.”
The statement by the Russian Foreign Minister was underscored when Iranian President Hassan Rouhani gave an interview to the US American TV channel CNN, saying that the first step in solving the crisis in Syria lies in expelling terrorists.Rouhani pointed out that those countries who are supporting terrorism are committing a big mistake that will be turned against them, and that all, even the western countries know that the most dangerous of terrorist groups are existing in Syria now.
After Sunday’s talks between the Syrian government and the foreign-backed opposition in Geneva, the joint UN/AL special envoy to Syria signaled that the Geneva II talks, which were scheduled to end Sunday afternoon, would continue on Monday. Brahimi said that solving the current crisis would require time and that slow progress may be better than rushed progress.
Brahimi has headed two meetings between the two sides on Sunday. The first meeting, on Sunday morning, took place with the two delegations in one room, while the second was arranged with the delegations in separate rooms with Brahimi shuttling between the delegations.
Brahimi said that the first meeting addressed humanitarian issues and in particular the situation in Homs, adding that the delegation of the Syrian government had informed them “that women and children could leave the old city immediately, and as for other civilians, they can do so, but via a list of their names”.
The UN/AL envoy concluded his press conference, saying that a UN team in Syria had been talking with the Governor of Homs about humanitarian aid and the delivery of the aid into the old city, noting that there is a ready to go aid convoy and that he hopes that something will happen in this regard on Monday morning.
Dr. Christof Lehmann is the founder and editor of nsnbc. He is a psychologist and independent political consultant on conflict and conflict resolution and a wide range of other political issues. His work with traumatized victims of conflict has led him to also pursue the work as political consultant. He is a lifelong activist for peace and justice, human rights, Palestinians rights to self-determination in Palestine, and he is working on the establishment of international institutions for the prosecution of all war crimes, also those committed by privileged nations. On 28 August 2011 he started his blog nsnbc, appalled by misrepresentations of the aggression against Libya and Syria. In March 2013 he turned nsnbc into a daily, independent, international on-line newspaper. He can be contacted at nsnbc international at firstname.lastname@example.org