Crowing about having successfully gotten Iran uninvited from the Geneva 2 peace talks in Montreaux this week, US State Department officials say the goal is now to get the talks to “focus on the task at hand,” which they said was imposing a political transition that would oust President Assad.
Early last week, Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian FM Sergey Lavrov were talking about partial ceasefires and serious measures to end fighting on the ground, but after the Assad government endorsed those plans, the US changed starkly, and now says any attempt to talk about ceasefires is an attempt to “distract” from the goal of removing Assad from power.
The whole US objection to Iran even being involved in the talks was because they hadn’t officially endorsed ousting Assad yet, which leaves open the question of why the US is allowing either Assad or the Russians to attend.
It also leaves open the question of what can even theoretically be settled by these talks, since most of the rebel fighters haven’t even been invited, and the only group attending is the relatively small Syrian National Coalition (SNC), a US-endorsed faction with little influence inside Syria itself.
Meanwhile, Assad is hoping that the Geneva talks can discuss the growing al-Qaeda takeover of the nation’s north, a very real concern for all parties involved but one which the US seems intent on burying beneath an attempt to impose regime change which is clearly going nowhere.