Syria Peace Talks Must Include All Warring Groups


A shockwave turns the ground white with dust as it radiates from the centre of the massive explosion.

Al Qaeda’s rockets are picked out mid-flight against the tan landscape while on the ground government tanks and artillery pieces fire at close-range targets in a desperate battle.

A few miles east of this carnage the charred remains of babies, women, and other children smoulder amid the craters of another regime or Russian air strike against Syrian civilians.

Meanwhile, the world’s powers peer at these latest war videos through their fingers.

They are so tangled in a spaghetti of their own policy absurdities that they are unable to do anything about the charnel house in the Middle East other than squeal in horror.

مخيم للاجئين سرمدا أيون سوريا بعد الغارة الجوية

For now the central absurdity is the collusion among the leading powers in the region and beyond in the exclusion of some of the most important groups that are fighting, from peace talks.

Peace talks, by definition, can only be held by groups that are at war with one another.

But key forces in Syria and Iraq are ring-fenced out of any talks (talks that have produced ceasefires that so far have not worked).

So Jabhat al Nusrat, the al Qaeda franchise in Syria, is excluded because it is a terrorist organisation.

Russia, the US, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, the UK – they all agree that the movement is a legitimate target of both Russian, Syrian regime, and American-led coalition bombs.

The Front is a dangerous organistion. There is evidence that it is trying to carve it own caliphate out of the chaos in Syria.

It has been gathering al Qaeda leaders to its flag from all over the world, some of whom, known as the Khorasan Group, have been plotting terror attacks in Europe and elsewhere in the West.

The Front is also, inconveniently, knitted into a host of other groups that are fighting the Damascus regime that the West has so roundly condemned for the slaughter of its own people.

These include groups that have been trained and funded (and supplied arms) by the CIA as well as others that have had non-lethal aid from Britain.

Damascus and Russia have a free reign to rain bombs on their heads. And have used this latitude to target hospitals, refugees and other civilian targets in a bid to break the rebellion and send another half million refugees across Syria’s borders.

Meanwhile, Turkey has continued its civil war against the Kurdish Workers Party. And attacked its affiliates and allies in Iraq.

Kurdish militia are the backbone of the coalition ground forces fighting so called Islamic State. But they are considered terrorists by Turkey – a key coalition ally.

And yes, the Kurds are excluded from the diplomatic process aimed at bringing peace to Syria and Iraq.

Turkey won’t have them at the table because they’re pursuing a dream of ethnic autonomy and have grabbed strategic territory along Syria’s northern border with Ankara.

So from time to time those same Kurds have attacked and been attacked by the rebels that the West is backing in the fight against Assad.

Until a ceasefire involves all groups that are fighting, any talk of a “truce” is absurd and the shockwaves from Syria will continue to be felt far beyond the region.