Skip to main content

Will Geneva II go the way of Vietnam peace talks?

The Geneva negotiations have yet to resolve many differences in form or substance between the government and opposition delegations.
French Foreign Affairs Minister Laurent Fabius (R) and Ahmad Jarba, leader of Syria's opposition National Coalition, attend a news conference at the French foreign ministry during a "Friends of Syria" meeting ahead of Geneva II peace talks, in Paris, January 12, 2014. The "Friends of Syria", an alliance of mainly Western and Gulf Arab countries who oppose Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, urged opposition groups on Sunday to attend this month's peace talks, saying there was no alternative for a political so
Read in 

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.

Access the Middle East news and analysis you can trust

Join our community of Middle East readers to experience all of Al-Monitor, including 24/7 news, analyses, memos, reports and newsletters.


Only $100 per year.