Image caption A number of people in the room risked their lives to take part in the meeting Some of Syria’s leading figures met in secret this week in Berlin to overcome the sectarian divides that are tearing their country apart. This is shadow diplomacy, away from the glare of publicity and political pressures, to…

Syrian leaders meet in Berlin

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Heaps of folk in the room risked their lives to spend section in the meeting

Some of Syria’s leading figures met in secret this week in Berlin to beat the sectarian divides that are tearing their country apart.

This is shadow diplomacy, away from the glare of publicity and political pressures, to search out a route to peace.

Sunni tribal chiefs, about a of whom absorb their very salvage militias, sat reverse Alawite dignitaries with conclude links to the Assad regime.

A Kurdish Yazidi chief used to be subsequent to a used Syrian ambassador to the UK.

A pair of dozen key figures from Syria’s major households, clans and communities gathered around the desk, alongside with Christians, Kurds, Druze, Sunnis and Alawites.

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Getty Photographs

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Some 350,000 Syrians had been displaced since early December by a renewed Russian-backed offensive against opposition-held Idlib province

They’re all leaders in Syrian society who absorb attain right here to strive against the myth, unfold by every the Assad executive and the armed opposition, that ethnic or spiritual divides are insurmountable.

Many of them are conclude to the Syrian executive – and absorb flown straight from Damascus – nevertheless attain no longer essentially fully give a enhance to it.

Others attain from communities that are struggling underneath President Bashar al-Assad nevertheless attain no longer reduction the armed opposition. Some absorb fled the war and are essentially based in Germany. This is the still majority that merely needs peace.

“These folk watch themselves as representatives of virtually 70% of Syrian society that does no longer facet with the armed factions or with the regime or with whoever is waging war in this country,” says Daniel Gerlach, a Heart East analyst who helps the German-essentially based Syrians who organised this meeting.

Why Berlin?

The meetings, that are funded by non-public donations and European governments, spend put in Berlin partly because Germany is viewed as an attractive just country. The influx of Syrians since the war additionally capacity that Germany now has a sizable Syrian neighborhood.

At some stage in a break the Syrians chat and chortle over cigarettes and low.

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Security used to be tight so telephones had been left by the door

The mood is light-hearted. Nonetheless about a of the members are risking their lives by coming right here. Reaching out to varied communities will be viewed as treachery by every the Assad executive and Islamist rebels.

Out of trouble of retaliation some absorb travelled right here secretly and members race away their cellphones at the door.

Every person in this room has viewed chums, family members or members of their neighborhood killed in the war.

Sheik Amir al-Dandal


In Syria we don’t desire this anymore. The more we strive against, the more we lose

Sheik Amir al-Dandal, a leader of the sizable Sunni Arab tribe on Syria’s border with Iraq, has lost a brother in the war. I put a matter to him how he manages to verify with folk on the varied facet of the warfare.

“Every person appears to be like a loser, so we want to beat our wounds. Continuing this warfare merely capacity more loss,” he stated.

New pledge agreed

In November 2017 this personnel’s founders first signed a constitution for peace, is believed as the “Code of Behavior for Syrian Coexistence”, which contained principles that every parts of Syrian society can comply with.

It incorporated a commitment to equality for all Syrians, despite ethnic or spiritual affiliation.

Since then, more leading figures in Syrian society absorb signed up and they also’re using their contacts, affect and social media to unfold the pledges within their communities.

After fierce debate, an additional commitment used to be signed on Wednesday evening pledging that no-one may possibly possibly well possibly be held responsible for crimes committed by varied members of their religion, family or ethnicity. The aim is to help away from violent retribution against a explicit personnel.

Participants would accumulated be held responsible for his or her salvage crimes or atrocities. Nonetheless their family members or members of their neighborhood or ethnicity wouldn’t be focused for revenge or held responsible.

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Abdullah Rophael indicators the commitment agreed by the personnel

“After we first declared this code of habits folk had been criticising, folk had been scared,” says Abdullah Rophael, a Christian from Homs. He compares this document to a declaration his grandfather signed after World Warfare Particular person that ended in Syrian independence in the 20th Century.

“Nonetheless now it has sizable acceptance in Syrian society. They’re actually relying on it to encourage them be a complete folk again after this rotten war.”

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