German FM Frank-Walter Steinmeier today announced that the latest Vienna talks on Syria have decided upon bringing opposition groups in “immediately,” with an eye toward holding elections in Syria in 18 months.
This, of course, was the exact proposal Russia was expected to offer at the talks, though Steinmeier didn’t offer any details to go along with the plan, and the question of who will be allowed to run in the elections at the end is likely to be a major obstacle.
Russia’s plan, at least as described in the press, was for there to be full, free elections with no restrictions, but this was immediately spurned by rebel factions, as well as Saudi Arabia, who are demanding that President Assad be explicitly barred from running.
The notion of elections at all still seems to be outside of the expectations of a lot of the rebels, however, as many seemed to be operating on the assumption that they would simply be installed as the new government by the US and its allies at some point, and have loudly opposed the idea of allowing materially anybody from the existing government to remain.
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