Supporters of Assad and Rebels Back Syria Peace Conference


Credit: VOA News; Scott Bobb reporting from Aleppo, Syria

The G8 has backed plans for a peace conference on Syria to be held in Geneva.

The statement released at the G8 summit does not detail what will happen to Assad after the conflict in Syria is over or what role, if any, he will play in a future government. Russia, one of Assad's closest allies, had previously said that Assad's removal could not be a precondition for a peace conference, so it remains unclear exactly how a transitional government will be achieved, especially considering that British Prime Minister David Cameron wanted a transitional government in place that would not include Assad.

Russian President Vladimir Putin made sure earlier in the conference to stress the presence of unpleasant elements within Assad's opposition, saying that many of the rebels are exactly the same as the young men who murdered a British soldier in London last month.

While G8 leaders may have made an agreement to have a peace conference rebels in Syria are unlikely to be reassured that Assad's removal is not a precondition. Given that Assad's removal is not guaranteed as a precondition by the conference it is hard to see what meaningful and long-lasting developments can come out of the still unscheduled Geneva peace conference that will make a political outcome of the Syrian conflict any more feasible or reassuring.

Even if the Syrian government and rebel representatives were to agree to conditions for peace talks the conflict in Syria involves forces that may reject whatever agreement could be reached. Jihadists who have sided with Assad's opposition have different goals that many other rebels, and will not consider themselves binding to an agreement made at a peace conference.