US Aims to Undermine Sochi Peace Talks
by Stephen Lendman (stephenlendman.org – Home – Stephen Lendman)
Russia alone among major powers continues going all-out conflict resolution in Syria.
Washington wants endless war and regime change, its imperial agenda hostile to peace, notably in countries devastated by its naked aggression.
On January 29 and 30, Russia will hold a Syrian National Dialogue Congress in Sochi, all parties committed to peaceful conflict resolution invited to attend.
Assad’s political and media advisor Bouthaina Shaaban said Damascus is ready for dialogue with everyone willing to resolve years of conflict diplomatically.
Success depends on armed groups ending violence and engaging in a process “that will lead to a comprehensive settlement of all issues related to the current crisis,” she explained.
In late December, Syrian opposition groups rejected Sochi peace talks, falsely claiming they bypass the Geneva process.
They’ve been invited to come. It’s unclear if they’ll participate. They obstructed multiple rounds of Geneva talks, likely to act the same way in Sochi if they attend.
Washington was invited to participate, the State Department saying:
“We can confirm the United States received an invitation for the Syrian National Dialogue Congress in Sochi.”
“As our focus remains on supporting Geneva and substantive progress from those negotiations, the UN must have full discretion when deciding whether separate events contribute to the Geneva process.”
“We do not have any further information to provide regarding US attendance or participation at this time.”
According to Special Representative of the Russian President for Syria Alexander Lavrentyev, invitations were sent to permanent and other Security Council members.
Iran and Turkey will attend. The conference supports inter-Syrian dialogue – conflict resolution its main goal, along with preserving the country’s sovereign independence, territorial integrity, and right of its people to choose their leadership and government, in accordance with SC Res. 2254.
The conference beginning Monday is hampered by days of Turkish aggression in northern Syria, Washington and Russia green lighting its Orwellian-named Operation Olive Branch instead of forthrightly condemning it.
US indefinite, likely permanent, occupation of northern and southern Syrian territory is a major obstacle to conflict resolution.
Syrian Kurds said they may not come to Sochi, according to Syrian Kurdish Democratic Union Party leader Salih Muslim Muhammad and Farhad Patiev, Federal National-Cultural Autonomy of Kurds chairman.
Muhammad said the conference “is completely at odds with Turkey’s actions in Afrin,” adding:
“There is a war. We will defend ourselves. So far, we see no reason to participate in the Sochi negotiations. However, a final decision has not yet been made.”
“Nevertheless, we are in constant contact with representatives from Russia, the United States, other large countries, as well as the UN and exchange information about what is happening in Afrin.”
According to an unnamed high-level Russian official, “(i)t is not possible to resolve the Syrian crisis without” Kurdish participation.
It’s crucial. Is Washington pressuring them to stay away? Russia is strongly urging their involvement.
Moscow expects around 1,500 participants and observers in Sochi, including Syrian and UN delegations.
The conference has important objectives – conflict resolution most of all, what Washington opposes.
Russia’s Foreign Ministry accused the Trump administration of conducting “a massive propaganda attack…the purpose of slandering Russia on the world stage and undermining efforts for a peaceful settlement in Syria,” adding:
It continues attempting to get the international community “accustomed to the idea that our country, which – unlike the US – has destroyed its stockpiles of chemical weapons, not only condones their use in Syria but in general is always guilty of everything.”
The ministry referred to days earlier hostile comments by Rex Tillerson in Paris and Nikki Haley during a Security Council session.
US hostility toward sovereign Syria and Russia is unbending, the main obstacle to ending years of war.
Separately, according to Russia’s upper house Federation Council Commission on Protecting State Sovereignty and Preventing Interference in Russia’s Domestic Affairs chairman Andrei Klimov:
“The American media (in Russia) called for a boycott of the presidential elections, which is a violation of the Constitution.”
“An open appeal for a boycott of national elections is a transgression that may entail a ban. Our side has all legal pretexts to take retaliatory measures.”
Klimov specifically referred to Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and Voice of America, perhaps Russophobic CNN as well.
Washington is waging political and economic war on Russia. Its hostile agenda risks turning things hot.
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