The first day of Syria peace talks in Kazakhstan hit a snag as direct negotiations between rebels and the government looked unlikely, and as delegates sparred over details of a nationwide truce.
On Monday, representatives of the Syrian government and opposition traded barbs over the interpretation of a ceasefire brokered by Russia and Turkey in late December, as their respective regional backers met behind closed doors to keep the meeting on track.
The Russia-Turkey organised meeting in Astana is aimed at strengthening a nationwide ceasefire that has largely held, despite pockets of violence across the country, and paving the way towards UN-led political negotiations in Geneva on February 8th.
The talks mark the first time the Syrian opposition has been represented solely by representatives of armed groups.
However, Syria analyst with the International Crisis Group, Noah Bonsey, said that any potential “impact” from the Astana talks is “more likely to come as a result of the trilateral talks between Iran, Turkey and Russia than it is from any direct exchanges between the Syrian delegations”.
“We’re sitting on the sidelines of talks meant to be between the Syrian government and the opposition, but the main event is what is happening in the trilateral talks,” he told Al Jazeera.
“Between Turkey, Russia and Iran you have tremendous leverage and military weight on the ground in Syria. If they make progress in adjusting the ceasefire that has already been agreed … that could have major military ramifications.”
Meanwhile, as the Syrian delegations trade blame over ceasefire violations and the presence of foreign fighters, the outcome of the Astana talks and their effect on next month’s negotiations in Geneva remain far from certain.
- Pray for the peace talks in Astana, for all sides to be willing to negotiate and come to an agreement to end the fighting in Syria.
- Pray for the talks between Russia, Turkey and Iran, for these to be for the benefit of the Syrian people, not just for political gain and power.
- Pray for those in Syria who are still coming under fire, despite the ceasefire, and pray for an end to the fighting across this nation.
- Pray, for the formation of good and Godly government for Syria, that will seek to rebuild this shattered nation and restore the lives and homes of its people.
Ezekiel 36 vs 35: “‘This land that was desolate has become like the garden of Eden; and the waste and desolate and ruined towns are now inhabited and fortified.’”