It can be said that the Geneva Conference was a Western scenario to persuade Russia and contain the ambitions of the new Putin who looks to strengthen Russia's international position and play an active role in international developments. But is there a careful assessment based on indications of such an alignment at the end of the conference?
Kofi Annan designated last Saturday as the date for an international political conference, in which supporters and opponents of Bashar Assad would gather for the first time (except at the Security Council and the UN General Assembly) in Geneva. Except the Islamic Republic of Iran and Saudi Arabia, which were not invited, other influential players in the issue of the Syrian crisis were present. The result of several hours of discussions and discourse was a statement based on the understanding of the participants over the proposed issues. The ratified points, called by some an international road map to transfer power in Syria, were interpreted by the two fronts that were present in the dialogue based on their own interests.
In reaction to the outcome of the Geneva Conference, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, the US representative in the conference, stated that the agreements will pave the way for the post-Assad period, while Russia and China stated that it was decided in this conference that the people of Syria are the ones who should determine their own fate. Prior to the conference, Kofi Annan declared that the goal of the conference was to study ways for the political transfer of power and, in the draft presented to the participants, it was expressed that efforts should be made to form a transition government with the participation of supporters and opponents of the present regime except those whose presence would damage the basis for the transfer of power and the establishment of stability in Syria. This sentence was interpreted by Assad opponents as Assad's resignation. It should be noted here that the international opposition made efforts, through different stages, to balance Russia's position and align it with its own positions.
The US expert delegation’s visit to Moscow two weeks before the conference, followed by the Clinton and Lavrov meeting in St. Petersburg, hours prior to the Geneva Conference, and the pressure exerted by representatives of Western countries on Russia in pre-Geneva negotiations to discuss the final statement, prove this point. Evidence shows that Russia has stood firm in its position based on disagreement with the idea of Assad’s resignation despite all efforts made by Western countries. On the other hand, a look at the final statement of the Geneva Conference reveals that the basis for the formation of a transition government is to the satisfaction of both sides and there is no indication of bringing Bashar Assad out of the equation of the transition government. That is why Lavrov expressed his satisfaction with the outcome of the conference right after it was finished.
We must now wait and see how practical it will be to form a national unity government with full privileges which would be responsible for transferring power, based on the new constitution, and with elections. Can current conditions on the ground in Syria give hope for such an atmosphere? The reality behind the scenes in Syria shows that despite the increase in the number of killings and in the destruction inside the country, there is still not enough determination from an international perspective to find a solution that would satisfy both sides in Syria. New differences of opinion between opposition groups, which are one side of the dispute, after the end of Tuesday's meeting in Cairo, confirm this concern. The Geneva Conference has requested the agreement of all opposition groups in order to enter the stage of transferring power. However, certain opponents of the Syrian government have their doubts with regard to the outcome of the Geneva Conference and considered this meeting as an effort to save Bashar Assad, and they therefore refused to participate in the Cairo meeting. Therefore, it would not be wrong to say that the Geneva Conference increased the distance between those opposed to Bashar Assad.
If the most important topic at the Geneva Conference was forming a national unity government with the participation of both sides, what is needed for this to happen is for there to be dialogue between the opposition and the government, but we did not see the required practical tools for this dialogue, and more importantly, a guarantee for its implementation in Geneva. It seems that Russia's decision to invite certain Syrian opposition groups to Moscow In the next few days has been made so as to show initiative and to not be accused of disrupting the political process of resolving the crisis in Syria.
In any case, despite Russian resistance in the face of Bashar Assad's opponents, the fact that Moscow has accepted the transfer of political power and Russia's presence in a meeting whose main goal was to gradually decrease the government's power, shows that there might be signs of a balancing of positions in Moscow.