Last updated: 22 December, 2016

Syria: five years of efforts to end the conflict

There have been multiple diplomatic pushes aimed at ending the Syria conflict since it erupted in 2011, but all have ended in failure. Here is a recap.

– Arab initiatives –

November 2, 2011: The Arab League says it has reached an agreement with Syria to end the fighting, free detainees and withdraw troops from cities, but the terms are not applied. Two months later, Arab foreign ministers adopt an initiative providing for the transfer of power from President Bashar al-Assad to his deputy and a unity cabinet.

In early 2012, Assad’s government formally rejects the plan and says it is determined to crush the rebellion.

– Geneva I –

June 30, 2012: An “action group” meeting in Geneva says it has reached agreement on a Syrian transition of power.

But those present — Arab states, Britain, China, France, Russia, Turkey and the United States — interpret the deal differently.

Washington says it marks the start of a “post-Assad” period. Beijing and Moscow maintain that it is up to the Syrians to determine their own future.

– Geneva II –

January 22-31, 2014: The Russia-backed Syrian government and US-supported opposition figures hold talks in Switzerland without results.

February 15, 2014: United Nations mediator Lakhdar Brahimi ends the talks. He resigns on May 13 after more than 20 months of fruitless efforts, and is replaced in July by Staffan de Mistura.

– Russian offensive/Vienna talks –

October 30, 2015: A month after Russian air strikes begin in Syria at the request of Damascus, 17 countries including Russia, the United States and for the first time Iran, meet in Vienna.

The regime and opposition are absent from the talks, which break up amid deep disagreement over Assad’s fate.

November 14, 2015: World diplomats agree in Vienna on a fixed calendar for Syria’s future but remain sharply at odds over Assad.

– UN resolution passed –

December 18, 2015: For the first time, the UN Security Council unanimously adopts a plan for a political solution, including negotiations between the opposition and the regime as well as a ceasefire. The text provides for a transitional government within six months and elections within 18 months.

– Indirect negotiations –

In March-April, 2016 three rounds of indirect negotiations between the regime and opposition take place in Geneva under UN auspices. They fail over conditions for a transition and are hindered on the ground by violations of a truce imposed by Washington and Moscow.

– Sixth Russian UN veto –

December 5, 2016: Russia and China veto a UN Security Council resolution calling for a seven-day ceasefire in the embattled Syrian city of Aleppo.

It was the sixth time that Russia, and the fifth that China, have used their vetoes to block UN action on the war.

But the army pressed an offensive on Aleppo, finally declaring on Thursday that it had full control of the city after one month of fighting.