(This article is published in Salon.)
Senior diplomats representing almost 20 countries are converging in Vienna in an attempt to reach a political solution to stop this disastrous conflict. Yet one group is missing: Syrians themselves.
A.P. confirmed that the U.S., Saudi Arabia, and Turkey, who support Syrian rebel groups; along with Russia and Iran, who back the Assad government; will be at the talks. In a press briefing on Wednesday morning, the State Department also noted that Egypt, Qatar, Lebanon, France, and the E.U. will participate.
Syrian voices, however, will absent from the discussion. Syria’s main political opposition body, the Syrian National Council, and other rebels were not invited to the international Vienna talks. The Assad government was not invited either.
Today, over a dozen countries are involved in the war in Syria, many of which are bombing and/or funneling weapons to groups they support. The New York Times has called the conflict “a proto-world war.”
In the Vienna talks, these countries are working together to try to find a way to put out the raging fire upon which they have all dumped gasoline. And yet, what continues to be clear is that the input of Syrians themselves is seen as superfluous.
For years, Syrians have had little say in the violent conflict that has destroyed their country. Now, Syrians are not welcome at the inter-imperial conference that will determine their fate.