With new talks on Syria opening in Vienna, all eyes were on Iran, who was invited to take part for the first time. The Iranian delegation made a show of flexibility, insisting the nation doesn’t demand Assad retain power in Syria forever and wound support a transition on certain terms.
Being flexible and reasonable seems very much out of place in Vienna, however, as US and Saudi officials both showed up to the talks with their typical chips on their shoulders, and demands for immediate, unconditional regime change in Syria that no one realistically thinks is going to happen.
Saudi Arabia couched their demands, the same as ever, as directed at Iran, claiming they’d no longer allow Iran to support the Assad government. The Saudis had previously made clear they were opposed to allowing Iran to attend the talks at all.
Iran’s addition to the talks came largely at the behest of Russia, and is likely to see them backing Russian calls for a transition that seems the government merged with secular rebel forces to fight against ISIS, a plan that has largely been condemned by the US and Saudis for not leading to immediate and total regime change.
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