The UN Security Council voted unanimously for a resolution aimed at ending Syria’s bloody civil war on Friday.
The document, Resolution No. 2245, calls for talks between the Syrian government and select opposition groups, to be organized by UN Envoy Staffan de Mistura, accompanied by a ceasefire agreement. Optimistically, the process is to lead to establishment of “credible, inclusive and non-sectarian governance” within six months. This is highly unlikely.
“Free and fair elections” under the supervision of the UN will be held in six months, though it is unclear now whether those will involve the current President.
Mr. Assad’s role in the transition has been a sticking point in international negotiations, especially within the Security Council, with Western powers citing his departure as a precondition for talks and Russia and China insisting he stay.
Laurent Fabius, France’s Foreign Minister, welcomed the deal but said that the idea of Mr. Assad standing in the next round of elections is “unacceptable.” Nevertheless, the resolution is silent on the matter, insisting only that the transition be Syrian-led.
The President’s future in Syria will remain a point of contention over the coming months.
John Kerry, who chaired the session, spoke positively about the resolution, saying it sent “a clear message to all concerned that the time is now to stop the killing in Syria.”
He called it “a milestone” because of its “specific goals and specific timeframes.”
Of course not all rebel groups will get a seat at the table, and “offensive and defensive actions” will continue against groups labeled “terrorist” like Daesh (ISIS) or al-Nusra Front, al-Qaeda’s affiliate in Syria.
Airstrikes by Russian forces and by the US-led coalition will thus continue, though there has been some disagreement about which groups are to be excluded and which are to be deemed a threat.