The Syrian peace talks in Astana Khazakhstan, closed on Tuesday, January 24th, with a resounding repudiation of both ISIS and Al Nusra (Al Qaeda in Syria), in a statement by all four signatory nations — Syria, Russia, Iran, and Turkey — which also is an implicit repudiation of the longstanding American position on Syria.
The U.S. (which was not invited to these talks) had demanded that the Syrian public be prohibited from being allowed to vote for Bashar al-Assad when elections for Syria’s Presidency will next be held. The U.S. government and its allies have held polls throughout Syria, all of which show that Assad is by far the preferred person, among all Syrians, to lead the nation. The declaration in Astana commits Syria unqualifiedly to democracy, and also opposes the breaking-up of Syria into ethnic enclaves — Sunni, Shia, and Kurdish — which the U.S. regime (such as in a recent Rand Corporation commentary, but actually ever since at least 1957) had striven for (as the likeliest way to enable the American aristocracy’s allies, the royal families of Saudi Arabia and Qatar, to pipeline their oil and gas through Syria into Europe).
The four signatories stated their total:
commitment to the sovereignty, independence, unity and territorial integrity of the Syrian Arab Republic as a multi-ethnic, multi-religious, non-sectarian and democratic State, as confirmed by the UN Security Council.
The statement also explicitly condemns Al Qaeda in Syria — the Obama Administration’s chief “boots on the ground” organization fighting to overthrow and replace Syria’s present government — and not only condemns ISIS/ISIL/Daesh, which even the U.S. regime condemned. This statement says that the signatories:
Reiterate their determination to fight jointly against ISIL/DAESH and Al-Nusra and to separate them from armed opposition groups.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry’s attempts to negotiate with Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov a path for ending the Syrian war all failed because of U.S. President Barack Obama’s insistence upon there being no bombing of Al Nusra’s forces in Syria: that only ISIS’s forces could be bombed while peace negotiations proceeded with the other armed groups (“rebels”). Steve Chovanec aptly summarized Kerry’s position in his negotiations with Lavrov: “Please Don’t Attack Al-Qaeda”.
The Astana statement does not exclude participation in Syria’s political future by the other rebel groups, some of which are fundamentalist Sunnis, and others of which are Kurds (who are religiously diverse and generally secular).
The statement asserts that the three governments:
Support the willingness of the armed opposition groups to participate in the next round of negotiations to be held between the government and the opposition under the UN auspices in Geneva as of February 8, 2017
The Syrian representative, Bashar al-Jaafari, was quite blunt in saying at the end of the talks: “For our part, we insisted on the issue of secularism being one of the features of the coming Syrian state that Syrians will agree upon, and our Iranian and Russian friends agreed to that; only the Turkish delegation and the armed groups’ delegation rejected that.”
Not even the Shiite fundamentalists, in Iran, were opposed to Syria’s being a non-Sharia-law, secular and religiously diverse, country — only the U.S. and its allies (Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and the other fundamentalist-Sunni royal kingdoms) oppose that, and they seem now to be pretty clearly the losers in this.
It was a complete repudiation of the position taken by the United States, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar, all of which aristocracies insisted upon victory for Al Nusra, and for the other jihadist groups that have been led by Al Nusra. But now, those groups will either need to separate themselves from Al Nusra, or else continue to be bombed by the coalition of Syria, Russia, Iran, and now also Turkey.
The new U.S. President, Donald Trump, has not yet made clear whether he will continue his predecessor’s Syria-policy — or, if so, how it would be done.
Investigative historian Eric Zuesse is the author, most recently, of They’re Not Even Close: The Democratic vs. Republican Economic Records, 1910-2010, and of CHRIST’S VENTRILOQUISTS: The Event that Created Christianity.