The recent airstrikes by the US, France and the UK on chemical installations in Syria and the risks they entailed for world peace were a wake-up call, according to UN Envoy Staffan de Mistura who spoke on at a two-day Syria conference of 85 countries and international partners in Brussels.
According to De Mistura, the attacks must be the starting signal for renewed diplomatic high-level talks about a political solution for the war in Syria that will require Russia, Iran, and Turkey to commit to finding a sustainable and achievable peace agreement.
“We were on the verge of a serious crisis with the (latest) military action (by the West). Any further escalation of this conflict on a much larger scale is a real fear,” said De Mistura, who hopes that substantial high-level talks could reduce the tension.
The EU and UN are the main advocates of a political solution, but countries from the region such as Iran and Turkey and Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad‘s main backer, Russia, simply refuse to diffuse the conflict, according to EU High Representative-Vice President Federica Mogherini.
She spoke of trying to find a ‘common ground’ on the basis that no outside military solution exists for Syria, which forces all of the parties involved into finding a political solution to the seven-year war. She has also stressed that the UN must lead the process as it is the only international body to have a ‘legitimate leadership role’ that all sides can agree on when trying to find an end to the conflict.
Mogherini has also said that support for the Syrian population both in and outside of Syria must be stepped up and cannot see more shortfalls in the international community’s attempts to bolster aid for Syrians that are in need.
The Syria conference was able to cull together €4.4 billion in pledged aid for this year, far less than the €6 billion the participants in the conference said is needed.
UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Aid Mark Lowcock called the move a “good start”, but said key large donors, including the United States, need to make up their mind about how much they are willing to pledge to help Syrians affected by the war.
Even if Europe holds Russia and Iran partially responsible for the poison gas attack by Assad’s forces, the two countries are needed to help bring the conflict to an end, according to Mogherini, a sentiment backed by De Mistura, who said, “The only alternative is permanent instability and war which, in the worst case, the Islamic State also benefits again.”