The proposal to “freeze” the Syrian conflict in the besieged city of Aleppo is gaining traction, the United Nations Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for Syria confirmed today, as he explained that the new plan, if successful, could form the basis of a wide-ranging peace proposal.
Speaking at a press briefing in the Syrian capital, Damascus, Staffan de Mistura told journalists that the past three days had seen “many useful and constructive meetings” between him and Syrian Government officials, including the Foreign Minister, Deputy Foreign Minister and President Bashar al-Assad, in which the UN’s action plan for resolving the three and a half year civil war via a “freezing” of hostilities had been widely discussed.
“The action plan is aimed at some few points which are clearly basic,” Mr. de Mistura continued.
“One is the need to focus on the real threat of terrorism as defined by the resolutions of the Security Council. Second is to reduce violence...Three, through the reduction of violence, try to reach as many people as possible in Syria and outside Syria who have been suffering due to this ongoing conflict; and through that, hopefully facilitate it and use that as a building block in the direction of a political solution.”
The Special Envoy pointed out that to provide a strong foundation for a lasting peace, all Syrians need “a concrete example” of the freeze’s implementation which, he hoped, would be applied to the war-ravaged city of Aleppo – “a symbol of culture, of multi-culture and of religious and historical heritage in Syria.”
“I believe that the proposal of the UN regarding one freeze, which I say is different and is a special case for Aleppo, is a concrete and realistic one,” he added, stating that he would now advance the proposal to the other stakeholders in the conflict.
Mr. de Mistura observed that the concept of a “freeze” was different from previous ceasefires and provided “a new way for approaching the de-escalation of violence” by narrowing the focus of its approach.
“This means, if that “freeze” works in one place, we can replicate it elsewhere,” he explained. “If that “freeze” works, and we hope it will, then this could be a building block for a political process and certainly this is not a substitute to what is a political solution but it certainly is an incentive in that direction.”
At the same time, he noted, the UN would continue to pursue a political solution via an array of national regional and international efforts.
“The alternative is more tragedy,” Mr. de Mistura warned, “more suffering after almost four years of a war where there are no winners and no losers, except one major loser, which is the hope for peace in this region and the people of Syria.”