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Why Geneva Talks Won’t Stop the Syrian Bloodbath

Geneva 2 conference on Syria. Photo source:

Now as thirty-four months ago, on every international and regional news TV you would watch, or transnational newspaper you might read, or human rights websites you explore, you will find analytical articles condemning the ongoing Syrian bloodbath. You will also come upon an uncountable number of commentaries preaching the necessity to continue the direct negotiation process in another UN-backed Geneva conference between the Syrian National Coalition and Assad regime so that the civil war and massacres in Syria can have an end.

Nevertheless, it took the UN and world powers 18 months and additional 110,000 dead souls to bring in the two Syrian factions to the currently in session Geneva 2 conference on Syria. Calling into memory that, the death toll of Syria’s civil war was just 19.000 on June 30, 2012, the time when Geneva 1 conference took place in Geneva.

However, on the eve of Geneva 2, a Qatari commissioned report was publicized providing a solid evidence of Assad’s regime systematic torture. It is worthy to note that this world-class investigative report was conducted and produced by three former international prosecutors: Desmond de Silva (former chief prosecutor of the special court for Sierra Leone), David Crane (former prosecutor in the trial of Charles Taylor, former Liberian president) and Geoffrey Nice (former lead prosecutor in the trial of Slobodan Milosevic,  former Yugoslavian President),. The filed report also includes fifty-five thousand shocking photographs, which were smuggled by a Syrian defector code-named “Caesar”, of 11,000 corpses of Syrian detainees who perished due to starvation, brutal beatings, strangulation, gouging out of eyes, electrocution and other unthinkable torturing techniques of Bashar Assad’s regime.

However, the first three years of Assad’s regime blatant butchery where more than 130,000 Syrian civilians have been murdered either by chemical weapons, TNT barrel bombs, heavy artillery, long-range shells, air-to-surface missiles or by death squads, prompt everyone to wonder how and who will put an end to this Stalinist-like massacres. This pattern of brutality seems to be deep-rooted in the psychic and practices of Assad family since Hafez Al-Assad coups d’état in 1971. Recalling one incident of many, such as Assad ’s father massacres in Hama in 1982 where Assad’s army slaughtered tens of thousands of Syrian civilians, should be enough to confirm this conclusion—let alone Assad’s carnage in Lebanon.

Although direct negotiations are acknowledged as the best route to resolve conflicts, yet considering the Syrian regime use of chemical weapons on civilians and the recent horrible photo evidence of Assad’s war crimes, prove beyond doubt that peace negotiation would be barren in Syria’s case. Firstly, this is because history manifests that ruthless dictators, like Adolf Hitler, Joseph Stalin, Slobodan Milosevic, Saddam Hussein, Muammar Gaddafi, and Bashar Assad, do not willingly abandon power, no matter of the human sufferings and loss of lives they cause. Above and beyond that, It is so because the top two-dominant sponsors  (the U.S. and Russia) of Geneva peace talks, could not agree on Assad departure— much less on the future role of the socialist Ba’ath party. On that, it is alarming inasmuch as it is distressing to foresee the Syrian struggle for democracy turns into, in all probabilities, a very long regional win-or-lose civil war.

Leaked photos from the Qatari commissioned

Photo of Syrian corpses leaked from the Qatari commissioned report accusing the Syrian regime of war crimes

Given these inhumane circumstances, the unavoidable question is how much more the international community, who self-proclaim, singly and collectively, a guardianship role of human rights and world peace, can tolerate this savage civil war in Syria without voiding their civil values and principles. It is about how long those advanced governments and, most importantly, people of the free world, from America to Europe and from Japan to Australia, can digest the never-ending bloodshed and war crimes in Syria without choking with the moral values and universal human rights they claim to hold.

Nonetheless, we still hear some foreign politicians and journalists suggest that the west has several domestic problems that have priority over international issues. While more dovish groups disclaim any obligation, duty or intention to interfere in armed civil conflicts of foreign nations since the international community is not an overseas police force. Other domestically opinionated groups see that it is an Arab responsibility and hence Arabs should resolve it solely by themselves. In the extreme, some pragmatists see western interest in keeping this pan-Muslim and pan-Arab fire aflame until radical Islamists and Arab regimes deplete each other out.

On the other hand, we find many resourceful politicos and analysts warn that this fire has to be put off the soonest before it expands to the entire Muslim world and beyond.  Many political experts and thoughtful think tanks warn that this infuriated civil war between Sunni-backed rebels and the Shiite-championed regime in Syria and Iraq will devour Arab sectarian and ethnic tolerance and thus creates a full-scale havoc in the entire Middle East region. They also warn that this chaotic situation will not only cripple moderation but will also nourish terror, endanger Christian existence, unleash the contained Arab-Israeli conflict and inflame anti-west feelings further to which the strategic western interests in this region become under review.

Despite that, most of these views and analyses have one ground, or another, in the world of real politics. Nonetheless, the resolving scope of the issue seems to miss considering the human cost and the long-term consequences of this sectarian confrontation on hundreds of millions of people–not to discuss the adopted out-of-track methodology of Geneva conference.

However, this shortcoming in the process drives many skeptic observers to doubt the primary objectives of the conference. To them, it is instituted just to serve as an excuse for the international community upcoming of inaction, leaving the Syrians to hold the blame for the failure of Geneva talks alone.  Could it be true? Will see!

Anyhow, by all books, a ceasefire is the first must-have phase to make peace talks feasible and hence find a settlement. Should world powers have been serious in stopping the Syrian massacres and putting an end to this war, they could have imposed an all-inclusive ceasefire, or at least during the talks, between all opponents before discussing peace plans and the future of Syria in Geneva. They could also have agreed in advance to forbid the supply of arms to all factions, provide humanitarian aid to the under siege and displaced, ensure the passage of living necessities to all areas, for instance, through which the U.N., U.S., and Russia prove their good intents to the world.

To all intents, if this mass murder is going to continue for long, the world will see Arab countries, Turkey, Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan and other countries in Africa transforming into a hub for across-the-board terrorism in which radicalism replaces moderation, and terror replaces rationality.

In 1546, John Heywood said, “Make hay while the sun shines”.

Would the free world rethink before late?


Author’s Note: This article is simultaneously published at Arabian Gazette


14 comments on “Why Geneva Talks Won’t Stop the Syrian Bloodbath

  1. Pingback: UN: A World Forum of Bystanders | The Middle East Tribune

  2. Shawn Elan
    February 12, 2014

    Thanks for your greatful informations, working in, ASIAN AFFAIRS MAGAZINE.
    Try to post best informations like this always


  3. Pingback: Why Geneva 2 Won’t Stop the Syrian Bloodb...

  4. Anonymous
    February 7, 2014

    Thank you, Mohammad for this insightful article and its valuable thought provoking responses.


  5. Margaret King
    February 1, 2014

    Dear Mohammad,
    Very good comments given by your viewers. I think it is important to see the madness in all the “players” involved in this conflict and to then realize what the best solution is. On January 28th, the New York Times reported that the rebels and extremists (ISIS & Nusra Front, offshoots of Al Qaeda) have seized control of most of Syria’s oil and gas resources, and are selling the oil and gas to finance their war against the Assad regime. Oddly, ISIS & Nusra are selling to their enemies, the Assad regime. They claim that all they care about is getting money, no matter who gives it to them. But why would the rebels enable their enemy, making it harder to fight them and win this battle for control of Syria? The other opposition leaders says the Islamist fronts are “secretly working with Damascus to weaken other rebel groups and discourage international support for their cause.”

    Without brushing off the news reports as questionable, I think one has to consider them since reporters have been dying in large numbers in the Middle East just to expose the truth to their readers. It has become clear that the only real players in this conflict are the major powers who are financing it within the Middle East. The rest of the players are the “little people,” the fools who obviously have gone mad, doing the dirty work of their benefactors. Therefore, it seems to me, as in all major wars fought throughout history, that the major powers involved are the ones who should be at the table discussing their own differences and how they are going to end the conflict. In all wars, it is the soldiers and civilians who pay the price of the folly of their governments. Instead of the international community entering the picture with boots on the ground, which would only add one more enemy in the minds of various factions, pressure should be placed by the international community on the major players, Iran, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar, and bring them to the table to discuss their grievances and ask why they think the status quo is beneficial to their region? They are the ones who should demand a cease fire. We have seen what Saudi Arabia has done to the democratically-chosen government of Egypt, and we have seen the hostility to the Muslim Brotherhood and the fabricated charges against them. Egypt will not be at peace until Egyptians are left alone to iron out their own differences, and Syria will not be at peace until the Syrian people are left alone to iron out their own differences. How can they when the major powers in the Middle East are financing bloodshed and revolution?



  6. T.E.Manning
    February 1, 2014

    Thanks Mohammad for the article.

    You mention “the two Syrian factions.” I was under the impression that there are many factions involved and that some of them are not present at the Geneva Conference.

    Personally I consider the discussion on chemical weapons a cynical red herring designed to create manoeuvering space for U.S. diplomacy. However objectionable the use of chemcial weapons is, deaths from chemcial weapons in Syria remain just a tiny fraction of the total number.

    Richard Lloyd and Theodore Postol of the Massachusetts Insitute of Technology (MIT) prove conclusively in their report dated 14th January 2014 on “the possible implications of bad intelligence” that the simple hand-made rockets containing Sarin gas used in Damascus had a maximum, I repeat maximum, range of 2km, and “could not possibly have been fired at East Ghouta from the heart or from the Eastern edge of the Syrian Government controlled area.”

    The report is at :

    Secretary of State John Kerry declared on the 30th August 2013 ” We know where the rockets were launched and at what time. We know where they landed and when. We know they came only from regime-controlled areas.”

    They didn’t.

    Each lot of Sarin gas made apparently has its own characteristic markers. So inspectors in Syria should know which laboratory the Sarin gas used came from.

    For the elite interests behind wars in general and the recent political unrest in Arab countries, Afghanistan the Horn of Africa and elsewhere the number of citizens sacrificed as “collateral damage” is totally irrelevant. Millions of innocent victims in recent years and still going strong. All for the monopolistic control of energy and natural (including genetic) resources and the armaments industries typical of a “free market”, all under the nomer of “strategic interests” and a “war on terror”.


    • Mohammad S. Moussalli
      February 1, 2014

      You are right. I should have inserted “main” two factions to be more precise. Liked your closing paragraph.


  7. Alfred G. Gerteiny, Ph.D.
    January 31, 2014

    How can we believe the result of an investigation financed by Qatar, a party actively involved in the financing of the anti-Syrian regime’s factions?

    Indeed, according to the Financial Times of May 13, 2013, Qatar has, in the first 2 years of the Syrian rebellion, contributed over 3 billion dollars to the uprising, including, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, weapons filled 70 Cargo planes via Turkey, in a 12 months period ending March 2013. The same article in the Financial Times also reported that Qatar has been financing defection of Syrian families at the tune of $ 50,000.00 annually.


    • Mohammad S. Moussalli
      February 1, 2014

      The content of the FT’s report is true and widely known long before it was published, since the Qataris is doing it in the open. However, I think we should give trust to the three international prosecutors, at least the same as we have trust in an international newspaper.

      The Qataris were only the receivers of the info and host of the defector, and of course paid the expenses of the commission ,but have no hands in the substantiation process of the investigation committee. Unless you mean or have doubt that they bought the conscious of those 3 respected judges. Yet I think we should apply the same standard of doubt on all news sources. To me, I have more confidence in similar judicial investigation much more than any other source.
      Anyhow, the UN and international court seems to be on the way to substantiate the case.
      Thank you


      • Alfred G. Gerteiny, Ph.D.
        February 1, 2014

        I agree with you, my Dear Mohammad, that “we should apply the same standards to all news sources.” In that context, my problem with the report in question is as follows:
        a) Though I have no doubt that the Assad Regime is guilty of war crimes, practically all other parties to the Syrian civil war have also allegedly committed crimes against humanity;
        b) The three renowned prosecutors were commissioned and paid by the Qatari Regime, a Sunni entity and interested party in the conflict, to investigate only crimes committed by one of the alleged criminal parties – the Alawi “apostate” Assad Regime, ;
        c) The Qataris are heavily involved, albeit by proxy in the conflict; they are therefore also guilty by proxy of crimes allegedly committed by their agents in the field;
        d) The Qatari Government, a party to the conflict, has hired the renowned prosecutors to get facts only supporting their case;
        d) These prosecutors got their facts second hand by anonymous people with “nom de guerre”committed in incriminating the Assad Regime, their enemy, and therefore not by objective observers.
        The report would have been convincing to me, had it been commissioned by the International Criminal Court and mandated to investigate, on the spot, all criminal sources.


        • Mohammad S. Moussalli
          February 1, 2014

          Dear Alfred,
          Generally, I agree with your comment. All factions should be held responsible for their brutality. The slight difference in opinion between you and me is that if we begin to hold countries accountable for supporting one faction or another, we should consider all in one basket–especially those who are directly involved like Iran, several Arab countries, Turkey, Russia and U.S, and some more. Beside that, nothing important to disagree about.


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© 2018 Mohammad S. Moussalli; ----------------------- Sharing, reblogging, excerpts and republication of this material, or part thereof, are permissible PROVIDED that it's clearly attributed to the author with reference to the original publication.
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