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MOSCOW, January 31. /ITAR-TASS/. The first round of the Geneva-2 international peace conference on Syria that ended on Friday is a step toward the start of a peaceful process in the Middle East country, Alexei Arbatov, the head of the International Security Center at the Russian Academy of Sciences’ Institute of World Economy and International Relations, said in an exclusive interview with Itar-Tass.
The expert said: “Many observers doubted that the Russian and American diplomacies represented by Sergei Lavrov and John Kerry under the UN auspices would manage to sit irreconcilable opponents - delegations of official Damascus and the Syrian opposition - down to the negotiating table.”
“Nevertheless, the opposing parties did not leave Geneva, did not bang the door at the conference and were sitting at one table. This is already progress,” he continued.
“Difficulties will certainly arise during the second round of talks scheduled for February 10 as well. The most disputable aspect is Syrian President Bashar Assad’s fate. I don’t think he will leave his post. The opposition insists on this condition. It is indicative that the West is already looking away from the part of Syrian opposition linked to al-Qaeda and other terrorist formations. It is also the success of Geneva-2,” Arbatov said.
The Russian Academy of Sciences scholar stressed that “civil wars are the hardest in terms of peaceful settlement, as the sides fight to the bitter end, with either one side or the other winning the battle.” In case of Syria, it was impossible to keep postponing the start of the peace process.
“Over the years of civil war in Syria, Arabs killed more Arabs and Muslims exterminated more Muslims than five wars in the Middle East between Israel and its neighbors, including the Palestinian Authority, claimed. This is a horrible disaster,” Arbatov believes.
As an expert in the field of weapons of mass destruction, Arbatov thinks “great powers, including Russia, the United States and [other] Western countries took care of the Syrian problem also because the future of chemical weapons was at stake.”
“The necessity of chemical weapons’ removal from Syrian territory for their subsequent destruction became an impetus to the start of intra-Syrian talks,” the scholar said.
The need to take out chemical weapons narrowed hostilities on Syrian territory.
“Russia and the United States, should, under UN auspices, develop the achieved success to enforce peace,” Alexei Arbatov is convinced.
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