DAMASCUS, Dec. 16 (Xinhua) -- The Syrian crisis, which witnessed few ups and many downs this year, is in dire need of international wisdom to help end the conflict and ward off its spillover effects.
The crisis started more than 33 months ago and reached a tipping point in August following accusations that the Syrian government launched a deadly chemical attack in the suburbs of Damascus, violating international regulations and inciting worldwide outrage.
Syria denied the charges and accused opposition forces of fabricating the issue to frame the government and force foreign intervention.
The chemical attack, which claimed hundreds of lives, prompted U.S. President Barack Obama to consider military action against the Syrian government.
In September, UN inspectors concluded chemical weapons were used in an attack in the Ghouta area of Damascus, but did not say explicitly who was responsibility for the attack.
To the surprise of the world, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad allowed international inspectors to destroy Syria's chemical weapons in compliance with an agreement brokered between the United States and Russia.
The move averted the threat of U.S.-led military strikes, giving diplomacy a chance to work.
The United Nations said in late November a "Geneva II" conference, meant to broker an end to the Syrian crisis, was scheduled to begin on Jan. 22 in Geneva, offering a chance for the Syrian government and the opposition to meet at the negotiation table for the first time.
The world's major powers are eager to seek a peaceful solution to the conflict as early as possible, partly out of fears of the increasing threat posed by jihadists.
The number of jihadists joining the conflict has been steadily rising, according to reports, and it is feared they could establish a base for al-Qaida, which would threaten security in neighboring countries and Europe. Al-Qaida chief Ayman al-Zawahiri said recently he views Syria as a promising staging ground.
Belgian Interior Minister Joelle Milquet said up to 2,000 European jihadists were fighting against the Assad regime.
She and French counterpart Manuel Valls warned those jihadists could return to their original countries and become more radicalized.
"The danger of al-Qaida, which President Obama had said dwindled dramatically, has risen once again and is posing a menacing danger to the entire world, making it incumbent on all concerned parties to work to solve the Syrian crisis as soon as possible," political analyst Ali Refai said.
"Even if the Syrian crisis has been born out of national demands, it has now been totally hijacked by radical extremists, whose presence in Syria is a global threat," Refai said.
Western officials have hinted they might need to start talking to the Syrian regime again, suggesting the jihadists' threat is much bigger than that of the current Syrian government.
Even the Syrian opposition groups have shown willingness to engage in dialogue with the government due to the growing threat from al-Qaida-affiliated jihadist groups, such as the al-Nusra Front and the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant. They have sent signals they want a rapid solution which could curb the jihadists' increasing power.
Concern has grown in Europe and many other nations about the growing risk the jihadists might pose for their countries once they return from Syria.
The Syrian government has made it clear it is ready to engage in the peace talks, but voiced determination to go on with its fight against terrorism.
Syrian armed forces have recently scored many new victories on several fronts against the rebels, recapturing a series of strategic towns and positions, and the army is still well in control of the Damascus, the government's stronghold.
The army's significant progress against the rebels has almost extinguished the opposition groups' hopes of military success, forcing them to accept the fact that dialogue is the only way to end the conflict.
"It seems that the world has come to a conclusion that violence will not end on the battlefield... The better place to end the Syrians' suffering is definitely Geneva," said Samar al-Hafez, a senior Syrian journalist and political analyst.
She said most Syrians had become convinced the crisis needs vigorous diplomatic efforts and a lot of international wisdom.
Esam Khalil, a Syrian lawmaker, told Xinhua the "Syrian crisis has reshaped the political landscape of the entire world," adding "the next step is the phase of international consensus."
Khalil, along with military expert Turki Hasan, said the international community must make concerted efforts to halt the support the radical rebels are getting, and choke off their smuggling routes in a bid to give the political solution a chance in Geneva.
Specialists gather in Cyprus for removal of Syria's chemical weapons
NICOSIA, Dec. 14 (Xinhua) -- A joint Danish and Norwegian task force of chemical specialists is being set up in Cyprus in preparation for the removal of chemical weapons from Syria.
The commander of the task force, Danish navy Commodore Torben Mikkelsen told journalists in the southern Cypriot port of Limassol on Saturday that the plan involves two cargo vessels which will take the Syrian chemicals in the port of Latakia. Full story
Geneva II conference on Syria to provide opportunity: Chinese FM
BEIJING, Dec. 14 (Xinhua) -- The Geneva II conference on Syria, scheduled for late January, will provide a "window of opportunity" to break the stalemate on the Syria issue, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said Saturday night.
China hopes all the parties concerned will catch and tap this opportunity, to ensure holding of the conference as scheduled and generation of positive results from it, to start up the process for political settlement soon, and to return a peaceful homeland to the peoples in Syria and the region, Wang said in a phone talk with U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on the Syria issue. Full story