UN Envoy to Asharq Al-Awsat: Five Armies are Embroiled in Syrian Conflict
United Nations special envoy to Syria Geir Pedersen warned Tuesday that five armies were embroiled in the war in the country.
In his first interview to the media since his appointment in October, he told Asharq Al-Awsat that the American, Russia, Iranian, Turkish and Israeli militaries were involved in Syria and efforts must be made to ensure that a confrontation does not erupt between them.
The area is susceptible to mistakes that could lead to major and catastrophic consequences on Syria, the region and world, he said.
His role as stipulated by UN Security Council resolution 2254 tasks him with communicating with the Syrian regime and opposition alike in order to develop a relationship between them and find ways to bring them together in order to launch negotiations. These talks are crucial to reaching a solution to the eight-year conflict.
He stressed that the he was approaching the warring parties in line with the Security Council resolution. He also pointed to the regional tour he made soon after his appointment, saying that reaching the desired solution demands speaking to regional and international players.
Pedersen said that he focused during his talks on the need to forge ahead with the Syrians, but with the support of international powers. These two sides “go hand-in-hand.”
At the moment, however, he stressed that his mission is limited to the Syrian government and people. This is not the hard part as after eight years of conflict, the divisions have grown very deep in Syrian society, making it difficult for the two sides to move forward together.
Some issues need to be addressed and resolved before moving forward, the envoy told Asharq Al-Awsat.
He noted that although the military aspect of the conflict was winding down, the roots of the crisis still exist. He cited the situation in northeastern Syria, Israeli airstrikes and the remnants of ISIS. Moreover, Syria’s poor economy and difficult social conditions are challenges that need to addressed in one way or another.
Resolution 2254 calls for respecting Syria’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. It calls on the Syrians to lead the political process, through UN support, to resolve the conflict.
The first step to fulfilling the resolution, said Pedersen, lies in building trust and deepening his ties with the government and opposition to reach common ground between them to move peace efforts forward.
The Syrian civil society must be incorporated in the process and the core issue of kidnapped civilians must also be resolved. Not a single Syrian household has been spared from this tragedy, he remarked.
On the political level, he stressed the need to deepen dialogue between the government and opposition.
He spoke of the Constitutional Committee that is being formed. The process has been hindered by lingering disputes between the regime, opposition and Russia over potential members of the committee.
He said that some progress was being made to overcome the differences.
Regional players must also be involved in coming up with the political solution given their involvement on the ground, he added.
Once an agreement is reached between the concerned parties on the final name of members of the committee and after it garners international support, then the political process could begin, Pedersen said.
Moreover, he stressed that resolution 2254 clearly speaks about drafting a new constitution for Syria.