Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

Astana Falters…Opposition Worried About 'Separation of South' - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
Select Page

Moscow, Beirut- The fifth round of the Astana talks aimed at ending the Syrian conflict concluded on Wednesday without making any progress, but only approved to transfer all disputed issues to a joint working group.

Russia’s chief negotiator at the Astana talks, Alexander Lavrentiev said: “We have not yet managed directly to establish the de-escalation zones,” which he said exist de facto.

But, he added: “We have finally succeeded in adopting the regulations on the joint working group. Now it has all the powers to tackle the current issues.”

During the meeting, the Syrian regime objected that Turkey participates with the other guarantor countries, Iran and Russia, in monitoring the “de-escalation zones” in Syria, while the opposition rejected Iran’s involvement in supervising those same zones.

Last May, Russia, Turkey, and Iran agreed on a ceasefire deal that calls for the creation of four de-escalation zones; one in the Idlib province, one in Eastern Ghouta, one north the city of Homs and another in southern Syria.
However, those guarantor states were still discussing the delimitation or mechanisms needed to enforce the deal.

A delegation of Syria’s armed opposition said on Wednesday it informed Stuart Jones, the acting assistant US Secretary of State, their “refusal to transfer the ceasefire issue into two detached agreements to separate the southern and northern fronts in Syria, a development that could threaten the unity of opposition factions.”

Lately, the three guarantor states had agreed on separating the “southern front” that includes Deraa, Quneitra and the countryside of Sweida from the deal.

For his part, Syrian chief negotiator Bashar al-Ja’afari blamed Wednesday Ankara for the failure of the Astana talks.

“The Turkish delegation objected the adoption of any documents related to the implementation of mechanisms of the agreement on the de-escalation zones,” he said.

However, a source from the Syrian opposition said it was not reasonable to hold Turkey alone responsible for the failure of Astana’s fifth round of talks.

The source confirmed that the armed Syrian opposition rejects Iran playing any role in the deal.

Meanwhile, Ahmed Beri, chief of staff of the Free Syrian Army, accused the US of hampering the negotiations and said Washington has banned the “Southern Front” factions from attending the talks.

At the end of Wednesday’s meeting at the Kazakh capital, the guarantor countries also agreed to hold the next round of the talks during the last week of August, and that Russia, Turkey, and Iran would meet in Tehran on August 1-2 in an effort to settle the outstanding disagreements on the zones.