After more than two years of darkness and bloodshed in Syria, finally there is the first glimmer of hope, the first light daring to surface that there may be the prospect, if not of ending then certainly at least curtailing the fighting.
Last Thursday, Russia’s foreign ministry said that it had received confirmation from the embattled regime of Syrian President Bashar Al Assad that it would be willing to take part in an international conference aimed at ending the conflict.
The decision by all parties to attend the talks is to be welcomed. But for the conference to succeed, its objectives have to be clear. The parties are going to the conference without any preconditions. While this may seem logical, events on the ground cannot be ignored. There has to be accountability for past action. Those with blood on the hands have to face justice. There cannot be a place for them in the new Syria.
As it stands right now, more than 80,000 people have died in the conflict, more than two million have been displaced internally while hundreds of thousands more seek shelter in neighbouring countries in miserable and difficult conditions.
The conflict in Syria is nowhere near ending. Recently, government forces have managed to retake some villages and bases overrun by the rebel forces.
While Iran has steadfastly denied it has any troops on the ground assisting the government in Syria, Hezbollah fighters are becoming increasingly embroiled in the conflict.
The war in Syria is threatening all the more to boil over and spill into neighbouring states. Tripoli is a city under lock down, where factions resort to weapons as Lebanese authorities try to keep the lid on the violence.
The offer of talks is the first credible move in 26 long months. The United Nations and the Arab League’s peace efforts have been failures – nothing was achieved and the blood letting continued unabated. No one has ever died from talking – but they have from not doing so.