A new round of talks is currently being hosted by the United Nations in an effort to end the Syrian civil war. The talks are happening at the Palais des Nations in Geneva. There have been two previous attempts at a peace deal called Geneva I and Geneva II. The first took place in 2012 and the second in 2014. The current talks are more hopeful because the armed rebel group will negotiate with the regime for the first time. Each side will initially meet with negotiators, who will then communicate with the opposing side before both sides meet face to face.
— New York Times World (@nytimesworld) February 1, 2016
Representing the regime for the second time since the 2014 talks is the Syrian ambassador to the UN, Bashar al-Jaafari. Spokesman for the opposition's High National Committee, Salem al-Meslet, told reporters on Sunday that they would not attend negotiations until their humanitarian demands were met.
"We wish to see food reaching people who are starving to death, to the women and children. We want women released from regime prisons and the criminal bombardment from Russia to end," he said.
— Al Jazeera English (@AJEnglish) January 31, 2016
The opposition is represented by the High Negotiations Committee, which was formed in December in Riyadh. Its leader, Riyad al-Hijab, was formerly the Assad regime’s prime minister before joining the opposition in August 2012. ISIS was not invited to the peace talks since it is a UN-recognised terrorist group. Both sides agree that ISIS still needs to be defeated in battle. In an apparent attempt to keep expectations low, the UN has refrained from calling them “peace talks,” and has instead labeled the negotiation, “Intra Syrian Talks.”
Bashar al-Assad's representatives were reportedly attending the talks to "to listen, not to negotiate," according to a senior official. The official also stated that the regime “was confident of military victory this year.”
Here’s what security and terrorism expert Aaron Cohen has to say about the Syrian conflict:
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