Global Independent Analytics

World Powers Seek Progress on Syria Cease-fire, Humanitarian Aid

The war in Syria is the focus of diplomats in Vienna where the 17-nation International Syria Support Group is discussing stalled political talks, difficulties in maintaining a cease-fire deal and failed humanitarian aid

Pamela Dockins for VOANews reports: although cease-fire, adopted in February, caused a significant drop in violence in Syria, that progress has slowly decreased lately. The U.S. and Russia, who are co-hosting the conference, are both trying to use their influence and to persuade competing sides to comply with the previously reached agreement while also putting their efforts into supporting peace talks that have so far made little progress.

Although the two countries are part of the ISSG, they share completely different views on the current conflict: Russia has supported the Syrian regime while the U.S. has been backing the moderate opposition. Despite disagreements over Assad’s fate as President, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov are eager to contribute their mite to solving the crisis.

“Today is about creating the conditions to comply better with the cease-fire,” said German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, heading into talks.  He said another goal would be improving conditions on the ground in Syria so that the opposition would be more inclined to participate in political talks.

Another aim of the cease-fire was to ensure that aid deliveries actually reach Syrians, especially those, who are located in besieged areas. However, the U.N. and humanitarian groups have reported about failing to deliver supplies because of attacks and thefts. The U.N.’s interest in pushing the negotiations lies in the fact that the conflict has left hundreds of thousands of people dead and millions more either as refugees or displaced within Syria.

Monday, the focus in Vienna was on Libya with world powers saying they will back the country's new government in its bid to lift a U.N. arms embargo.  The move could help the government combat internal security threats and fight Islamic State.

The United States and the international community “stand ready, to provide humanitarian, economic and security support to the new Libyan government,” Kerry said.  But he said world powers are not talking about troops or “boots on the ground" in Libya.

Libyan Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj depicted the current situation in his war-torn country as “bad” in terms of the economy and security and urged world leaders to provide additional training and equipment for Libyan forces, saying Libya’s neighbors would not be “spared” if terrorism grows inside the country.

Another focal point was a multi-national effort to help stabilize Nagorno-Karabakh, an ethnic Armenian enclave within Azerbaijan that was the scene of intense fighting in April.

Armenia and Azerbaijan accused each other of violating a cease-fire.  The flare-up was partly fueled by a worsening economic situation in Azerbaijan because of the fall of oil prices.

Monday’s sessions were the first time the presidents of Armenia and Azerbaijan had met since the flare-up. Russia, France and the U.S. serve as co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group, which has been working to find a peaceful solution to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.

In a joint statement, they said the presidents of Armenia and Azerbaijan had agreed to finalize plans for an investigative mechanism within the OSCE “in the shortest time possible” and to meet again next month to work on resuming talks on a comprehensive settlement.

 

By Stefan Paraber for GIA.

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