The tempered expectations of both sides of the conflict in Syria shattered into rubble on February 15 when United Nations-led discussions in Geneva ended without a shred of hope for the war-torn nation. After the breakdown of the talks, U.S. officials expressed outrage at Russian support of the Bashar al-Assad regime that “kills people in the most brutal way,” The Washington Post reports. Senator John McCain (R, Ariz.) and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry commented on the crisis shortly after the talks dissolved.
The Geneva Conference on Syria, held at U.N. headquarters, broke down on what one U.S. official called Russia’s “having it both ways,” The Washington Post reports. Speaking to the news agency on the condition of anonymity, the Obama administration official accused Russia of both playing nice during the Olympics and holding up any chance of progress by supporting the Assad regime that has no intention of giving up power in Syria. Without a change in leadership in the country, the fighting between opposition groups and Syrian government forces will continue.
Lakhdar Brahimi, U.N. special envoy and mediator in the talks on Syria, apologized to the people of Syria following the breakdown of talks without any hope for the conflict’s end. According to CNN, Brahimi backed the assertion that there won’t be progress unless Assad agrees to a reduced role in the government. Diplomatic pressure on the Assad regime has not made a difference, which has led U.S. leaders to question Russia’s role in the conflict. Senator John McCain went so far as to say Russia couldn’t be counted on in any way.
“The Russian government is simply not a partner for peace in Syria and cannot be relied on to secure a successful outcome,” McCain said, according to The Washington Post. Since there was no backup plan anticipating the failure of the Geneva talks, the U.S. and allies in the region are wondering how to move forward. U.N. mediator Brahimi suggested both sides at war in Syria discuss with leadership whether they actually want peace in the country.
Senator McCain noted how the killing actually increased while the talks took place and criticized Russia’s role in blocking the U.N. resolution that would have supplied aid to Syrian civilians. CNN News reported February 16 that John Kerry, who was traveling through Indonesia, said the U.S remains committed to peace in Syria and will weigh its options moving forward.
The way forward remains uncharted without help from Russia. As John McCain lamented, the position of Moscow is unlikely to change, yet the U.N., U.S., and Russia will likely be back at the negotiating table soon. In Syria, the death toll will continue to mount.