Kazakhstan Institute for Strategic Studies

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KazISS Expert on Astana Talks: “There Will Be No Quick Resolution”



The KazISS’ Sanat Kushkumbayev forecasts on a new round of the Astana process of the Syrian negotiations. The expert believes that quick solutions should not be expected and the sides and observers will have to work hard to resolve the situation.

Sanat Kushkumbayev underlines that the Astana process should be considered only as supplement to the other negotiations held on Syria. "This process resulted from the consensus decision of the major external players, namely Russia, Turkey and Iran" – notes the expert. Importantly, Kazakhstan is not a party, but only a host of the talks gathering the Syrian government and the armed opposition at the same table. The process is long and difficult since the conflict in Syria has been going on for six years, and it would be unreasonable to expect any easy and quick resolutions from such a meeting. The Astana format is about such issues as ceasefire and its enforcement as well as the access to the humanitarian aid, in other words all those technicalities that could push for a more political agenda in Geneva and during the other negotiations. "To expect that the war will stop immediately would be rather premature” - he warns. 

According the expert, this process, similarly to the three previous rounds, is to reaffirm the agreements reached in December 2016 in Geneva.

Sanat Kushkumbayev reminds us that the parties failed to maintain the ceasefire in Syria as this is the war "all against all". "At the same time, all parties agree that it is necessary to combat against the Daesh who are excluded from the Astana process. Therefore, whom we shall call the “opposition” is also a problematic issue as the “opposition” is not homogeneous, there is not any single actor or group who would be a legitimate representative of all. In Syria, field commanders may be rather autonomous or to be associated with some of the political figures participating in the negotiation. What is important, says Sanat Kushkumbayev, is that the Astana talks, for the first time, brought the opposition and the government together to the negotiating table. Therefore, although there have not been any tangible results, it is vitally important that the parties agreed to talk.

"Even if the parties continue to violate the of cease-fire regime, there is no any other options. Even if there are violations and claims that this is the war to the bitter end, we shall remember that there is no such a thing as the civil war do “to the bitter end”… there will be some compromise, and compromise requires effort. Any future provocation, failures, and violations shall be monitored. “This is a time and effort consuming process”, - concludes Sanat Kushkumbayev.

         The expert emphasized the fact that for almost everyone at the negotiation table this conflict is a personal tragedy. Therefore, the emotions impede the negotiations. As for a new political and government system of Syria, the expert’s view is that it would be rather premature to speculate although, there have been some maneuvers here as well.

Today, the US State Department has issued a statement that supports the ceasefire initiative. The next round of the negotiations between the government of Syria and the opposition will be held on May 3 and 4 in Astana. Prior the next round of the Astana process, negotiators from Russia, Iran and Turkey have held bilateral meetings.