Wednesday, 22 January 2014

Peace talks in Syria unlikely to make progress

Syria Civil War zones of control (at August 2013) - courtesy BBC
The Syrian National Council, the biggest bloc in Syria's opposition outside the country, said January 20 that it would quit the Syrian National Coalition to protest peace talks in Geneva with the regime, AFP reported January 21... United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon invited Iran to the peace talks, dubbed “Geneva II”, drawing objections from the United States and opposition spokespeople...Syrian President Bashar al Assad will attend the talks in a position of strength, having shown the world it can withstand the military threats of the United States and prosecute an internal civil war with virtual impunity...Mr Assad is simply not under significant pressure to negotiate with the rebel forces...Opposition groups are still deeply divided, with some 1200 different cells among them, and are in no shape to make agreements with the regime, especially when it has little legitimacy among rebel fighters...Inside Syria, these opposition forces have been fighting both regime troops and al Qaeda-affiliated groups on two fronts, splitting their concentration and hurting their military gains...Weakening the moderate branches of the opposition further, Western intelligence agencies recently indicated the regime may be conducting a complex double-game by providing funds and cooperating with al Qaeda...The goal here is threefold: maintain the impression in the West that the uprising is led by Islamist groups, help keep the opposition divided against itself, and convince undecided non-Alawite Syrians to side with the regime...The talks in Geneva will be largely brushed aside by Mr Assad, but rebel forces will probably use them to push for more international support. 

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