Failure in Geneva
by Stephen Lendman
Morning headlines belie continued conflict on the ground. East/West divisions remain. Nothing changed but political rhetoric from Geneva.
After Annan's so-called peace plan, violence increased because Washington planned it that way.
Expect it to continue now. America needs conflict and instability to further regime change plans. Peace and stability defeat its interests.
AP ran a June 30 headline with no text, saying:
"Clinton urges UN Security Council to pass sanctions authorizing military action in Syria"
She insists Assad must go. UK Foreign Secretary William Hague said he and his close associates can't lead a transition. He called for Security Council action to tighten sanctions.
Reuters headlined "Assad's fate unclear in world powers' Syria plan," saying:
Geneva participants struck a transitional government agreement. "(T)hey remained at odds over what part (Assad) might play in the process."
Talks were billed as a "last-ditch effort" to halt violence. Similar headlines followed Annan's peace plan. Months later, things are worse, not better.
After Geneva discussions ended, Washington and Moscow issued contradictory statements. Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said he was "delighted" with the result. Key for him were no preconditions and no attempt to "impose a process" on Syria.
Clinton told reporters:
"Assad will still have to go. What we have done here is to strip away the fiction that he and those with blood on their hands can stay in power."
Washington bears full responsibility for 15 months of conflict. Syria was calm and stable until US-enlisted, armed, funded, trained, and directed death squads began ravaging the country.
Syrian blood is on Washington's hands. The Obama administration ravages one country after another.
Fingers pointing the right way demand indictments for genocidal crimes of war and against humanity.
Assad is more victim than villain. Syrians most of all are harmed.
During Saturday discussions, dozens more were killed. Death squad attacks remain unabated. Lavrov told reporters:
"Some armed groups and the sides sponsoring them are using provocation to spread violence, and there are many facts in this regard that can be seen in western and US media sources."
"(T)his happening in several towns and villages where there are attacks on administrative establishments, government and private properties, the army forces and the police."
"(T)here are more facts that turn up successively, showing the presence of sectarian instigation."
He added that "(w)e cannot call upon the government forces to withdraw from cities while armed groups are receiving weapons....US and European media show this."
He also criticized Western media and Al-Jazeera biased coverage. He noted that several Al-Jazeera correspondents resigned in protest.
Ahead of Geneva discussions, AFP headlined "Syrian rebels dismiss interim govt plan," saying:
Syrian National Council (SNC) leaders said they're "opposed in principle to joining any interim government before Assad stepped down." Spokesman George Sabra said:
SNC's "firm position remains that the opposition would not participate in any political project unless (Assad) is removed from power."
Washington scripted his comments. He spoke them. Conflict rages out of control because Obama officials plan it that way.
June 30 Geneva Agreement Text
Participating countries (the Action Group) included America, Russia, China, Britain, France, Turkey, Iraq (Chair of the Summit of the League of Arab States), Kuwait (Chair of the Council of Foreign Ministers of the League of Arab States), and Qatar (Chair of the Arab Follow-up Committee on Syria of the League of Arab States).
Foreign Affairs and Security Policy High Representative Catherine Ashton and UN/Arab League for Syria Kofi Annan also attended.
Iran and Syria were notably absent. Excluding them compromised discussions to resolve conflict peacefully.
Action Group members:
"(1) identified steps and measures by the parties to secure full implementation of the six-point plan and Security Council resolutions 2042 and 2043, including an immediate cessation of violence in all its forms;
(2) agreed on guidelines and principles for a political transition that meets the legitimate aspirations of the Syrian people; and
(3) agreed on actions they would take to implement the above in support of the Joint Special Envoy’s efforts to facilitate a Syrian-led political process."
Steps and measures include:
• ending armed conflict;
• implementing Annan's peace plan;
• adhering to provisions of Security Council Resolutions 2042 and 2043;
• releasing detainees;
• ensuring "freedom of movement throughout the country for journalists on a non-discriminatory visa policy for them;"
• respecting freedom of association and right to demonstrate peacefully;
• respect for and cooperation with UNSMIS (UN Supervision Mission in Syria) observers and securing their safety and security;
• allowing immediate and full humanitarian access to areas needing help;
• evacuating the wounded and civilians wishing to leave; and
• adhering fully with international law provisions.
Political transition guidelines and principles include:
• a Syrian-led transition for everyone in the country;
• establishing clear steps and a firm time frame toward realizing stated goals;
• ensuring safety, stability and calm to assure doing so; and
• avoiding further bloodshed and violence.
Transitional government must be "genuinely democratic and pluralistic." It must conform with "international standards on human rights. It must include an independent judiciary respecting rule of law principles, and must offer "equal opportunities and chances for all."
Ending conflict depends on establishing "a transitional governing body" with "full executive powers. It could include members of the present government and the opposition and other groups and shall be formed on the basis of mutual consent."
Syrians must "determine the future of the country." All groups and segments of society must be able "to participate in a National Dialogue" process. Outcomes achieved "must be implemented."
"The result of the constitutional drafting would be subject to popular approval."
Once established, "free and fair multi-party elections" must be held. Women must be "represented in all aspects of the transition."
More on Syria's 2012 constitution and parliamentary elections below.
Safety, stability and calm must be established. All sides must comply. Vulnerable groups must be protected. Humanitarian issues must be addressed. Order must be restored. Efforts must commit to "Accountability and National Reconciliation."
Syrians must "come to a political agreement."
"The sovereignty, independence, unity and territorial integrity of Syria must be respected."
Conflict resolution through peaceful dialogue and negotiation is key.
Agreed on actions include:
• sustaining pressure to implement Syria's transition;
• halting violence and conflict;
• appointing "an effective empowered interlocutor" to implement peace and transition;
• "urg(ing)" "cohesion" of opposition groups...."to work on the basis of" Annan's plan and points agreed on in Geneva; and
• convening other meetings as necessary to review progress and determine additional steps and actions as needed.
Syria's New Constitution and Parliamentary Elections
In February, Syrians overwhelmingly approved new constitutional provisions. Despite opposition boycotts and violence, 89.4% of eligible voters approved it. Another 9% opposed, and 1.2% of ballots were declared invalid.
Overall, 57.4% of Syrians participated. Given the risks taken to vote, turnout was impressive.
The Constitution includes 157 articles. From its initial draft, 14 are new, 37 were amended, and another 34 reformulated. Among other reforms, political pluralism was established for the first time. So were presidential term limits and press freedom.
Most Syrians support Assad. On May 7, first time ever parliamentary elections were held. It was a milestone political event. Independent candidates participated.
Despite ongoing insurgent violence, turnout was high. Voting went smoothly. Independent monitors supervised the process. They included intellectuals, legislators and judicial authorities from other countries.
For Syrians, it was historic. Ba'ath party members won a 60% majority. Previously they held just over 50% control. With support from independent MPs, they comprise 90% of Syria's parliament. Opposition party members were also elected.
Washington called elections farcical. US and other Western reports mocked them. In lock step, scoundrel media regurgitated official lies.
At the same time, they ignore America's fraudulent political process. Duopoly power runs the country. People have no say. The process repeats each electoral cycle. Voters get the best democracy money can buy.
Syrians voted earlier. They did so freely. They expressed their will. Why should a transitional or sitting government repeat what's accomplished?
Action Group members didn't explain. Nor was conflict resolution achieved. The ball advances closer to war. Washington plans it. It's coming.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
His new book is titled "How Wall Street Fleeces America: Privatized Banking, Government Collusion and Class War" http://www.claritypress.com/Lendman.html
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening. http://www.progressiveradionetwork.com/the-progressive-news-hour