At the November 14 meeting of the International Syria Support Group in Vienna, members expressed a unanimous sense of urgency to end the suffering of the Syrian people, the destabilization of the region, and the resulting increase in terrorists like Daesh, drawn to the fighting in Syria. To advance a diplomatic solution to the horrific civil war, the parties agreed on concrete steps to advance a nationwide ceasefire and a political process in accordance with the Geneva Communique of June 2012.
Secretary of State John Kerry spoke of what was accomplished in Vienna: “For the first time, we got people to sit down at the table and everybody, including Iran and including Russia, signed on to a communique that said we all want a united Syria; we all want a secular Syria; we all want a Syria in which the minorities are fully protected and there is tolerance and respect for different religions and different cultures.”
But both Secretary of State Kerry and President Barack Obama have emphasized that the war in Syria will not end, as long as Syrian President Bashar al Assad remains in power.
It is Assad’s brutality against the Syrian people that continues to draw terrorists like Daesh to Syria and helped them to flourish. And, as Secretary of State Kerry has noted, Assad “has cut his own deal with Daesh:”
“The Daesh headquarters sat in Raqqa for years. It was never bombed by his bombs. It was children and women and hospitals and schools that were bombed by his bombs.”
President Barack Obama said that if Assad continues in power it is “unimaginable” that the civil war in Syria will stop “when the overwhelming majority of people in Syria consider him to be a brutal, murderous dictator. He cannot regain legitimacy.”
Mr. Obama said that Assad’s allies Russia and Iran are going to have to make a fundamental choice, either to continue to “prop up Assad” or to “save the Syrian state and work with the international community and the U.N. to find a government that truly can be legitimate.”
The ongoing talks on Syria, President Obama said, create the space needed for Russia and Iran, among others, to make the pivot necessary to help end the war in Syria and assist the world in uniting against the lethal threat posed by Daesh.