US Secretary of State John Kerry's delusions continued as he arrived in Montreux, Switzerland to open the "Geneva II" talks on the ongoing conflict in Syria. Having successfully bullied UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon into rescinding the invitation previously extended to Iran to attend, Kerry proceeded to bully and blunder his way through the pre-opening of the conference.
"We need to deal with reality here," Kerry said on the eve of the conference. "Bashar Assad will not be part of that transition government."
Kerry's pressure on Ban to uninvite Iran to the conference — though Iran is far more affected by the crisis than the majority of countries invited to participate — was based on Iran's refusal to endorse the pre-condition of support for "regime change" in Syria as the goal of the conference. At least "regime change" was the US interpretation of the Geneva I Communique issued after that conference in 2012.
However the US appears to be purposely misinterpreting the statement made after the Geneva I conference. According to the Communique signed after that conference, there is no demand that Assad must leave office. At most, the agreement calls for:
The establishment of a transitional governing body which can establish a neutral environment in which the transition can take place. That means that the transitional governing body would exercise full executive powers. It could include members of the present government and the opposition and other groups and shall be formed on the basis of mutual consent.If anyone is violating the letter and spirit of the Geneva Communique, it is the US/Saudi side. The US government demanding that Assad must go clearly violates this statement in the Communique:
The sovereignty, independence, unity and territorial integrity of Syria must be respected.Therefore if any country should be disqualified from participation in Geneva II on the basis of refusing to observe to the Communique issued at the end of Geneva I, it should be the US and any other nation demanding the overthrow of the current Syrian government as a pre-condition to further talks.
That would of course also include the Saudis, who win the chutzpah award for foreign minister Prince Saud al-Faisal's statement that Assad can have no role in the political transition in Syria because his hands are "stained in blood." This from an official whose government has spent billions of petrodollars injecting foreign radical jihadists and human organ-eaters into Syria to battle the government there.
Likewise the Qataris, who have also spent billions on their rent-a-jihadist fight against Syria and who most recently have spent an as-yet untold amount hiring a group of attorneys to "discover" evidence of Syrian government torture on the eve of the Geneva II conference. The timing of the release of this information is a practice that recalls the chemical attack in East Ghouta on the eve of the arrival of a UN chemical weapons inspection team at the invitation of the Syrian government.
That attack and the US claim that is was without a doubt perpetrated by the Syrian government, drove the US to the brink of a military attack on Syria last summer. Though doubts persisted as to Syrian government culpability at the time — and the US administration provided no evidence — the US and its "Friends of Syria" allies would brook no dissent.
Just weeks ago, however, a study conducted by a team of experts from MIT concluded that due to the primitive design of the chemical munition rockets, it would have been physically impossible for them to have been fired from Syrian government-held territory as the US government had claimed. How long before we hear the same conclusion over this latest Qatari-funded "discovery"? Which is not to say that there has not been brutality committed by both sides, we should not forget.
One need not endorse the current Syrian government to appreciate Syrian foreign minister Walid al-Moualem's retort to John Kerry's arrogant claim to decide who should or should not govern Syria:
No one, Mr. Kerry, in the world has the right to give legitimacy or to withdraw legitimacy from a president, a government, a constitution or a law or anything in Syria, except Syrians.Indeed. And so it begins, Geneva II. Start making plans or III, IV, and so on, because this conference is a farce.