Is there a chance for peace in Syria? Talks in Sochi will bring more questions than answers

The aim of the Syrian National Dialogue Congress (an official name for the planned meeting in Russian Sochi) is to create a draft of a new Syria constitution. Anyway, little is known about the meeting. The formula of the congress is unknown and its date has been postponed several times. Up to 1,700 people may take part in it and it is also the first peace meeting where representatives of the Kurds were invited.

Currently, the congress is planned for January 29 and 30. What will be its nature?

– It is too early to talk about the details – claims Şahoz Hesen, the co-leader of the Democratic Union Party (PYD).

Troublesome Kurdish guests

Among the invited guests who will take part in the congress, 155 are representatives of the Democratic Federation of Northern Syria and some Kurds will be among them. They are about to come to Sochi despite the strong opposition of Turkey, which considers the Syrian Kurds’ parties, particularly the PYD, to be related to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). Turkey claims the PKK are terrorists.

– No terrorist group can act on behalf of the Syrians. PYD and YPG cannot represent Syrian Kurds – said İbrahim Kalın, the Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan spokesman, on December 3, during a press conference in Ankara.

He accused PYD and YPG of cruelty and violations of human rights, which happens without any response from the West countries, as the Americans have common interests with these Kurdish parties.
The list of the congress guests was therefore drawn in order not to upset Turkey. The Russians convince that PYD will not take part in talks in Sochi. However, Hesen claims that the party has proposed different conditions.

– Negotiations are still ongoing. Russia wanted only us to come to Sochi (the representatives of PYD – note. P.P.]. We did not agree. We want to be in Sochi only as part of the representation of the Democratic Federation of Northern Syria – explains Sahoz Hesen.

The Democratic Federation of Northern Syria refers to the democratic values and the respect for diversity. Therefore, there are about to be representatives of various ethnic groups living in the region, like Kurds, Arabs and Assyrians among the 155 delegates to the congress.

These are the first peace talks after those in Geneva (lasting from 2012) and Astana (the first meeting in this formula took place in 2015), where representatives of the Kurds and related parties will be invited.
The Syrian Democratic Forces control over 30 percent of the country. The peace talks are doomed to failure, as it was in the case of previous attempts at agreement, if the Democratic Federation of Northern Syria will not participate in the meetings – says Hesen.

However, the politician does not believe that the congress will bring quick results.

– It is impossible to solve the problem during one meeting – he says.

On the other hand, he admits that military action is not the way to end the crisis. During the seven-year civil war in Syria, at least 400,000 people died. 11 million – half of the population of the country according to the pre-war data – had to leave their homes.

Will the war end during the next five years?

The political and military situation is still tense before the peace talks.

Just before the end of the year about 40 groups of militants announced that they would not take part in the congress. In their opinion Russia tries to ignore the United Nations activities and the peace talks in Geneva, and is also responsible for the war crime.

On December 18, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad described all those who collaborate with the United States – Kurdish people in other words – as “traitors.” Two days later, Faisal Mekdad, the Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs of Syria, said in an interview for Al-Alam News Network that “there is one more Daesh, it is called the SDF”. Daesh is an Arabic acronym for ISIS. Few days later Erdoğan called Assad a terrorist, so Assad accused the Turkish President of having Syrian blood on his hands.

– If these talks are to be successful, everyone must arrive with a clean slate, must forget about what has happened – says Dilşad Cudi, the editor of the Arabic editorial office of Hawar News Agency. ANHA is associated with the administration of the Democratic Federation of Northern Syria.

However, he claims that – regardless of the outcome of the talks – the meeting in Sochi will not lead to the end of the war in Syria. There is not only fighting against the regime in Syria, but also numerous conflicts between various anti-government groups. Each group has influential foreign partners.

– The war will have probably end by 2023, but it will not mean the end of the crisis – Cudi states his opinion.

He gives Iraq as an example. After the overthrow of Saddam Hussein’s regime, because of the American invasion in 2003, Iraq is still in the constant crisis.

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