De Mistura Dismisses Geneva Formula

Washington is not convinced by the envoy's "bottom up" approach

Informed sources have told Al-Hayat that the plan adopted by the U.N. envoy Staffan de Mistura to resolve the Syrian crisis is a "coup" against the formula of the Geneva conference, which is based on the formation of a "transitional body with full executive powers" to be formed by the regime and the representatives of the opposition.


The sources noted that de Mistura adopted a proposal advocating a solution that is not based on a transitional phase and political quotas, "but stopping the war and recognizing that Syria has become decentralized", while the "departure" of President Bashar al-Assad is not a prerequisite, but it should take place within a "political and safe operation under international supervision and guarantees".


Washington expressed doubts about the strategy of de Mistura and clarified its intention to use it to "buy time" and train and equip the moderate opposition, while Moscow stuck to Geneva as a "ground for a political solution". It is expected that the international envoy will present his approach to the Security Council within four weeks.


De Mistura adopted the plan of the Center for Humanitarian Dialogue in Geneva, reached after secret meetings in Geneva between Syrian political and military figures from the regime and the opposition.


According to the information provided to Al-Hayat, the plan includes steps within a time schedule of two years. The plan includes agreements for a ceasefire, expansion of local administrations, followed by parliamentary and local elections to form a "parliamentary, non-presidential system" in which the Prime Minister, to be elected by the parliamentary majority, enjoys "wide powers" besides the President who also has special powers.


The sources considered this is a "coup" against the approach of the former international envoys Kofi Annan and Lakhdar Brahimi, which was based on the implementation of the Geneva I statement, issued in June 2012, and the formation of a transitional body with full executive powers, and on the Geneva process, which was based on two sessions of negotiations.


The sources noted that de Mistura follows a "bottom up" approach, as his plan starts with ceasefire agreements, followed by reconciliations, to local administrations, and ends with a political solution, which will create new facts that make the return to "the transitional phase and political solution something difficult".


De Mistura intends to continue his consultations, where international and regional experts will hold meetings with his team in Geneva on  November 24 to form a detailed suggestion on "Aleppo first" and how to implement a ceasefire in the second largest Syrian city. De Mistura will then go back to Damascus in the first week of next month to present a "detailed road map". The Syrian Minister of Reconciliation, Ali Haidar, said yesterday that the regime is "waiting for the details of the proposal".


In Washington, diplomatic sources told Al-Hayat that Washington is not fully convinced with the strategy of establishing a ceasefire in Syria, but it will not break it down and will use it to "buy time" and support the moderate opposition and avoid a full collapse in the north of Syria.


An official at the U.S. State Department told Al-Hayat that the United States "supports the ceasefire that offers real relief to civilians and conforms with the humanitarian principles", but that "America warns at the same time that the ceasefire agreements concluded by the Syrian government are more similar to surrender than to real agreements", stressing the support of the efforts of de Mistura and the "priority of reaching a political solution".


The atmosphere of the U.S. administration reflected the intention to speed up the process of training and equipping the moderate opposition.


According to the Washington Post, Washington is considering the establishment of training camps directly supervised by the Ministry of Defense (Pentagon) in addition to regional countries, to prepare this force next spring. Sources said that this plan will be discussed between Vice President Joseph Biden and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Ankara this week.


In contrast, sources said that Moscow considers de Mistura's plan an "introduction to a ceasefire in all Syrian territories", a process to be paralleled with Russian diplomatic efforts to activate the "political track".


Russia announced that "the time has come to push towards a direct dialogue between the Syrian moderate parties and the government on the basis of the Geneva statement which included two main terms: fighting terrorism and launching the political process".


In New York, a U.N. official said de Mistura "will return to Geneva at the end of this week to work with his team to develop a proposal regarding the application of the ceasefire plan, which includes a monitoring mechanism the U.N. is supposed to be part of". The official added that de Mistura "will present his approach to the Security Council next month, and the monitoring role of the United Nations was discussed during de Mistura's meetings with the Syrian government and other parties, but it is too early to talk about an agreement now".


De Mistura will meet "bodies and commissions in the European Union" in Brussels this week. A source in the United Nations said that de Mistura "and his team will determine the form of the ceasefire", adding that "this procedure will be very important, especially to test the seriousness of the parties (both those who announced their acceptance or rejection) in their positions towards the proposal".


Translated and edited by The Syrian Observer



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