Kurdistan Regional Government president Masoud Barzani announced on June 7 that the region had set September 25 as the date for a referendum on independence. He was joined by members of the Kurdistan Democratic Party, the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, Kurdistan Islamic Union, Kurdistan Islamic Movement and other small parties, including those representing Assyrian and Turkmen minorities. New signs on billboards throughout the KRG capital of Erbil tout “yes to independence.”
The upcoming round of intra-Syrian talks in Geneva is considered to start the period of political transition in the country, and opposition forces are likely to accept President Bashar Assad’s staying in power during this period.
A frequent refrain from all parties to the conflict in Syria – whether it is the US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson or President Assad himself – is that it is for Syrians to determine the future of Syria.
President Donald Trump’s plans for Syria have come into clearer view since he ordered cruise missiles fired on a Syrian air base to punish Assad for a chemical weapons attack. The strategy breaks down into three basic phases: defeating the Islamic State group, restoring stability in Syria region-by-region and securing a political transition in which Assad ultimately steps down.
US Special Envoy for Syria, Deputy Assistant State Secretary Michael Ratney discussed with Cairo opposition platform in Geneva the US-Russian role in the Syrian settlement and the US interests, member of the Cairo platform Firas Khalidisaid.
Syrian opposition representatives attending the intra-Syrian peace talks report the constitutional and power-transitional issues leading to a political settlement to end war has been broached.
Syrian opposition member said that intra-Syrian negotiations on Friday in Geneva are likely to start with discussions of governance and anti-terrorism issues, followed by the constitution and elections.
Ongoing Syria talks in Geneva appeared to show some signs of movement on Wednesday, as opposition negotiators said the government had been pressured by Russia to address their demands for a political transition.
As it is being underlined in the press with a reference to the UN mediator’s office Syrian peace talks to be held in Geneva on Thursday remain focused on discussing a “political transition” in the war-torn state. Meanwhile the UN is backing away from that aim.