Significant progress appears to have been made on peace in Syria during the past week’s Geneva peace talks, which ended today with both government and rebel forces agreeing on a UN-brokered agenda for future talks, including talks expected to be begin later this month.
The rebels even agreed to “provisionally” accept the 12 principles the UN laid out for the peace process, laid out as a result of indirect negotiations with the UN mediator Staffan de Mistura. Though it wasn’t publicly confirmed, it is generally assumed that Syria’s government also accepted the principles.
There’s no underestimating what a huge step forward that is, as previous talks have rarely managed to get through to the end to finish in an orderly fashion, and having both sides reach a joint agreement of sorts, even if it is just a vague one on continuing the talks, is pretty much unprecedented.
Interestingly, Mistura and other UN officials were openly dubious of the idea that the talks this time around were going to lead to anything, and at the start they just seemed to be going through the motions. The moderate rebel factions attending the talks being attacked by al-Qaeda forces appears to have convinced them that the talks were worth pursuing in earnest.