Representatives of Russia, Iran and Turkey, which consider themselves the “guarantor nations for the Syrian ceasefire,” and who have been carving up Syria using their military forces, are meeting in the Russian beach resort of Sochi on the Black Sea Monday, to discuss the formation of the Syrian constitutional committee, the progress of the de-escalation zones (which have so far served as kill zones for enemies of the regime), as well as returning Syrian refugees home.
According to TASS, the first day will be dedicated to expert consultations, followed by a plenary session on Tuesday.
The Russian Foreign Ministry issued a press announcement saying, “The participants will exchange opinions on the process of facilitating inter-Syrian dialogue based on Resolution 2254 of the UN Security Council and the decisions of the Syrian National Dialogue Congress in Sochi. They will continue the discussion of further steps in the interest of launching the constitutional committee as soon as possible, as a key element of promoting political regulation of the Syrian crisis.”
Resolution 2254, adopted unanimously on December 18, 2015, calls for a ceasefire and political settlement in Syria. The resolution demands that all parties immediately cease any attacks against civilian targets; urges all member states to support efforts to achieve a ceasefire; and requests the UN to convene the parties to engage in formal negotiations in early January 2016. However, these negotiations do not include ISIS and Al Qaeda’s al-Nusra Front. The resolution calls for free and fair elections to be held under UN supervision within 18 months (mid-2017), with the political transition to be led by Syrians.
Resolution 2254 was invoked by Iran, Russia, and Turkey as the legal basis for their takeover of the political process in Syria, backed by their enhanced military operations against rebel groups, including those supported by the US and its allies in the Middle East.
Monday’s Russian delegation to Sochi is headed by Special Presidential Envoy for Syria Alexander Lavrentyev and Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Vershinin. The Iranian and Turkish delegations are led by deputy foreign ministers Hossein Ansari and Sedat Onal respectively.
UN Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura and delegates from Jordan will act as observers. UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi was also invited to the meeting. The Syrian government is represented by Syria’s UN envoy Bashar Jaafari.
Representatives of the armed Syrian opposition have not likely been invited. Also, according to TASS, American diplomats are not participating in the Sochi talks.