(France24) May 31, 2013 – “There’s been a lot of confusing statements coming out of the various parties involved over the past few days,” said Cyril Vanier from FRANCE 24’s international affairs desk. The latest turn came as the international community is pushing to hold US-Russian sponsored peace talks next month in Geneva.
“What we’re seeing for the moment is a game of poker. The backers of both sides of the conflict are either supplying weapons or saying they are going to supply weapons,” said Vanier. “Both sides are trying to come to the negotiating table with as strong a hand as possible.”
Earlier this week, the European Union agreed to allow the lapse of a ban on arms deliveries to Syria’s rebels. Foreign ministers from the 27-nation union, meeting in Brussels, failed to muster the votes for renewing the arms embargo, which expired Friday.
Assad has said Syria would “in principle” attend a peace conference in Geneva if there were no unacceptable preconditions. But later, the main Western-backed opposition group outside Syria announced it would not participate in the talks.
A spokesman for the Syrian National Coalition (SNC) told reporters in Turkey that the group would not attend the talks while massacres continued inside Syria.
“The National Coalition will not participate in an international conference and will not support any efforts in light of Iran’s malicious invasion of Syria,” said SNC spokesman Khalid Saleh in an apparent reference to Iranian-backed Hezbollah fighters aiding Assad’s forces inside Syria.
Fouad Ajami, a senior fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution and author of “The Syrian Rebellion” and other books, yesterday described “How Obama is Failing Syria” in a think piece for Bloomberg, writing in part:
(Bloomberg) – In the matter of the Syrian rebellion, the U.S. hasn’t even “led from behind.” The Obama administration has pioneered a new role for a great power: We are now the traffic controllers, directing the flow of weapons to the rebels.
The money isn’t ours; it is Qatari and Saudi and Libyan. The planes hauling the weapons are Jordanian, Qatari and Saudi. And the risks are run by Syria’s neighbors, principally Jordan, Turkey and Lebanon.
Our officials have opinions on Syria, but no one in the Greater Middle East can difine them. We want Bashar al-Assad gone — our president said so in August 2011 — a full five months into a brutal war. Then again, through winks and nods, we suggest that the alternative to Assad might be worse than his despotism.
No sooner do we make one definitive statement against the dictator than we hedge it with an invitation to both the dictatorship and the opposition to come to the negotiating table. Great crimes are committed by the Syrian regime, but we are full of worries about the jihadis who have converged on that country. For American officials, the lengths of the fighters’ beards, one Syrian opposition leader lamented, are more important than the massacres.
(AlJazeera) – There are countless rebel groups in Syria and many have different visions of how the country should be led. The brigades have joined forces in some battles, but it remains to be seen whether they are unified enough to win the war. Al Jazeera’s Zeina Khodr reports from the Bab al-Hawa border crossing between Syria and Turkey.
- Farouk Brigade Al Shamal – Mohammed Al Hajj Yassine
- Jabhat an-Nusrah li-Ahl al-Sham, which translates to “The Support Front for the People of Syria”
- Ahrar al-Sham – a profile of Northern Syria’s al-Qaeda surrogate
- Saudi edges Qatar to control Syrian rebel support – May 31, 2013