The gathering of the “Friends of the Syrian People” in Istanbul, scheduled to open on Sunday, is the latest diplomatic move in a series of steps that have so far produced no real results. Representatives from over 70 countries – headed by U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton but without delegates from Russia and China – will try once again to formulate the policies for dealing with the crisis in Syria. At the very least, delegates are seeking to assist tens of thousands of Syrian refugees and citizens stranded in their homes, suffering from the military’s attacks while having no access to medical attention and basic food supplies.
Former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan’s recent plan - which calls for a ceasefire and a retreat of President Bashar Assad’s forces from city centers - was practically put to rest on Saturday by Clinton during a press conference with Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud Al Faisal. Clinton indicated she has little confidence that Assad would cooperate with Annan’s plan.
A report which Annan will present to the UN General Security Council on Monday is also unlikely to change the situation; Assad continues to butcher his own citizens, and on Saturday alone at least 30 people lost their lives. Although Annan has pledged that UN peacekeepers would be deployed in Syria as soon as the gunfire subsides – there is no indication at the moment that the Syrian army is prepared to hold its fire. At present, even humanitarian missions are unable to reach those in need.
The Arab League’s plan for a political solution has been scoffed at by Assad from the it was conceived, and the League’s resolutions on Friday only strengthened the Syrian opposition’s sense that there is currently no Arab or international body ready to adopt a policy of military intervention to put a stop to Assad’s actions.
For more, go to Haaretz.com