International contact group on Syria to meet in October

Media reports say high-level representatives of international contact group on Syria including Russia, United States, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and Egypt may come together in October

Photo by: AA
Photo by: AA

A scene from Duma district of Damascus controlled by opposition forces following air strikes of Syrian Bashar al Assad regime

Media reports say that high-level representatives of international contact group (ICG) on Syria, including Russia, United States, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and Egypt may come together in October in order to seek a concrete resolution for the escalating Syrian conflict.

Media accounts on the possible October meeting have been based on a statement from Russian Deputy Foreign Minister, Mikhail Bogdanov.

Bogdanov said,  “Four intra-Syrian groups should be formed in Geneva and a meeting of the contract group from the most influential foreign players should be moved to October after the UN General Assembly session,” on Monday according to Russian news outlet RIA Novosti.

More than 240,000 people have been killed in Syria since the civil war started in 2011 between the Assad regime and opposition forces, following the Arab Spring movement that swept a number of countries in the Middle East and North Africa.

Bogdanov insisted that the proposed meeting on Syrian crisis should be held as soon as possible and could include foreign ministers of the participant countries.

“The level hasn't been decided yet. I think it will be working at multiple levels: experts, deputy ministers and ministers if necessary,” he added.

Bogdanov also referred to Staffan de Mistura, the United Nations (UN) special envoy to Syria, emphasising that the ICG should work in coordination with the present UN structure concerning Syrian conflict.

De Mistura held meetings with “key players” of the Syrian Civil War over the last summer in Geneva, in order to develop a solid ground for peace talks. He has paid visits to Russia, China, Turkey, Egypt, Qatar, and the United Arab Emirates within the framework of the discussions during that time.

The Geneva I Conference on Syria was held in June 2012 in Geneva, and initiated by then UN peace envoy to Syria Kofi Annan, in an attempt to reach a peaceful resolution to the Syrian civil war.

Former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov, a representative from China, former British Foreign Secretary William Hague and Kofi Annan participated in the conference.

The conference issued a final “communique” at the end the meetings saying that “[The goal is] the establishment of a transitional governing body which can establish a neutral environment in which the transition can take place."

“That means that the transitional governing body would exercise 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,” the communique continued.   

“It is for the Syrian people to determine the future of the country. All groups and segments of society in Syria must be enabled to participate in a National Dialogue process. That process must not only be inclusive, it must also be meaningful - that is to say, its key outcomes must be implemented,” it added.

Following the Geneva I Conference, the mediators worked intensively to prepare a follow-up meeting, called the Geneva II Conference, which was eventually held in January and February 2014 - in Montreux - with no tangible results.

Since then, there have been no equivalent peace negotiations on the subject.   

Russia has been aggressively pursuing a new Syrian peace initiative by calling an ICG meeting in Geneva and declaring that their initiative aims to be in line with the previous Geneva talks.

However, the Russians have also been recently tightening their relations with the Assad regime and reinforcing Syrian regime by stationing warplanes and tanks to a military base close to the Latakia province which is a strategic Mediterranean port city in Syria.

Moreover, Russian media reported on Sunday that the country has agreed with Iraq, Syria, and Iran to share intelligence against ISIS, effectively establishing another anti-ISIS alliance based in the Iraqi capital of Baghdad.  

An existing US-led coalition battling ISIS is operating in both Iraq and Syria in an effort to uproot the militancy and US also has a significant military presence in Baghdad.

TRTWorld and agencies