Mr. de Mistura, Why Don't You Invite ISIS To Geneva As Well?
24 April 2015
By Abdulrahman Al-Rashed
A week ago, the UN's envoy to Syria, Staffan de Mistura, defied everyone by
insisting that Iran be invited to a proposed international conference on
Syria, saying: ''The United Nations and myself have the right and will be
inviting everyone, including Iran.'' Dear Mr. de Mistura, a question, if I
may: Why invite Iran when it rejects the outcomes of the two previous Geneva
De Mistura justifies his position on Iran by using the excuse that it has
influence on the ground in Syria. Well, since invitations are being
distributed based on this principle, the United Nations might as well invite
the Al-Nusra Front and the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), as these
two terrorist groups are more influential on the ground than Iran and its
After all these months since he was appointed in July, the international
envoy has decided to impose Iran on the Syrians in Geneva. However, the war
on the ground has not taken the path that he, Iran, or Syrian President
Bashar Al-Assad had hoped for. The rebels have recently achieved a series of
stunning victories, something they have not been able to achieve during the
last two years of the conflict.
Assad's forces have been defeated in Idlib, Jisr Al-Shughour and elsewhere,
and the fighting is only some 25 miles (40 kilometers) from the city of
Latakia, a government stronghold. The fear has been reflected in currency
trading in the capital Damascus, where the Syrian pound has quickly declined
in value from 260 to 300 Syrian pounds against the US dollar.
Of course, it is de Mistura's right to invite whoever he wants to Geneva.
However, he has more-or-less destroyed the conference before it has even
convened, due to his inept management style and snobbish rhetoric.
He will not be successful in imposing a solution on the majority of Syrians
just because he thinks Iran is influential in the war, since Tehran and the
Syrian regime represent, at best, no more than 15 percent of the people. Even
members of the Alawite sect to which Assad belongs have begun to profess
their desire to get rid of the regime's symbols.
The international envoy can do whatever he wants, but he will not be able to
stop the fighting. He will fail just like the Russians did with their
conference, which was only attended by Syrian government representatives and
those affiliated with it.
De Mistura has spent most of his time with Assad, and has not given any
attention to the opposition. And now he is proposing a conference that meets
the needs of the Damascus regime. The question is, what can the conference
hope to achieve if no acceptable ideas are put forward?
The participants at the two previous Geneva conferences reached a solution to
form a government consisting of the opposition and the regime but without the
latter's leadership, something the Syrian regime did not agree to. This was a
middle-ground solution that represents the upper limit in terms of
concessions to the Assad regime. There is no point in holding another Geneva
conference without accepting this basic principle.
The international envoy has nothing with which to threaten the opposition, as
Iran has been present with all its force in Syria for the past two years,
using its operatives in Lebanon, Iraq and Afghanistan to wreak havoc upon the
However, Tehran has not succeeded in achieving any kind of victory in Syria,
unlike the opposition, which is fighting the Syrian regime and continually
besieging its bases. The regime has nothing left with which to frighten the
Syrian people: it has already displaced millions and murdered more than a
quarter of a million, and yet the Syrians continue in their struggle.
Al Rashed is the general manager of
Al -Arabiya television. He is also the former editor-in-chief of Asharq Al-
Awsat, and the leading Arabic weekly magazine, Al Majalla. He is also a
senior Columnist in the daily newspapers of Al Madina and Al Bilad. He is a
US post-graduate degree in mass communications. He has been a guest on many
TV current affairs programs. He is currently based in Dubai.