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February 3, 2014

Syria peace talks end without agreement


The Syrian peace talks ended Friday without any agreement. However, U.N. mediator Lakhdar Brahimi said the fact that the two sides met at all is progress.

“It was a very difficult start. But the sides have become used to sitting in the same room. They have presented positions and listened to one another. There have been moments when one side has even acknowledged the concerns and the difficulties and the point of view of the other side,” he said.

Brahimi lamented that the two sides failed to agree on lifting the siege of Homs, where civilians are trapped with no access to food or medicine.

The rebels remains defiant about any deal with the government. “I don’t think that there will be a kind of meeting of minds with this criminal regime,” said Ahmad Jarba, president of the opposition Syrian National Council. “It’s very difficult. I think that this regime was forced to come to Geneva. Assad is trying to buy time because he knows the end is near.”

Meanwhile in Syria, opposition activists claim that another 1,900 people have died in fighting since the peace talks began, and The New York Times reported groups linked to al-Qaida have seized control of most of Syria’s oil and gas resources.

Warm up questions
  1. Name some countries that are currently fighting civil wars.
  2. What is the “Arab Spring”? Which countries are involved?
  3. What happens to civilians during a civil war?
Discussion questions and writing prompts
  1. Do you think that the negotiations were a success, failure or somewhere in between? If there was progress, what was it? Explain your answer.
  2. Analyze who the important players are within the negotiations including world leaders. What are their current goals and frustrations?
  3. Using what you know about the Syrian Civil War and the current state of negotiations, describe where you think Syria will be in a week, three months and a year. Who will be in power? What will the government look like? How will the lives of the Syrian people be affected?
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