A former Lebanese government minister, while relaying to Al-Monitor what he had heard in Damascus regarding the outlook for the upcoming Geneva II conference, invoked stories from the Paris peace talks on Vietnam in 1968 and 1969. According to him, the initial disputes that arose surrounding the Vietnam talks threaten to be an issue in Geneva as well.
There are a number of unresolved matters of protocol separating the regime and its opponents — the two parties who will be negotiating in Switzerland at the talks beginning Jan. 22 — starting with which flags will be present at the negotiating table. The regime of President Bashar al-Assad is demanding the official Syrian flag, while the opposition has adopted the “revolution flag.” The Syrian authorities consider the flag that appeared in Syria after the rebellion began in March 2011 to be a remnant of the era before Syria’s independence and a symbol of the French mandate over the country. Thus they view that flag as symbolizing a violation of Syria’s sovereignty, independence and, in particular, its unity.