In the next few weeks, negotiators will arrive in Astana, Kazakhstan for the first serious Syrian peace talks in many months. According to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, everything is up for negotiation, and that his only concern is who will be negotiating on the other side.
That remains an open question, as the Syrian ceasefire and the peace talks were brokered by Russia, Iran, and Turkey, and while reports are that some rebels signed off a the idea of peace talks, it’s not at all clear which factions or how large they are, leaving open the same problem that has threatened previous conferences, a lack of unity among the rebels.
Assad suggested even his own future could be up for debate at the talks, though he added that any restriction on who can run for office in the future would require a constitutional amendment, and a referendum. Still, he said he was fine talking about such a referendum.
The talks are scheduled to begin January 23, though likely this is conditional on the ceasefire holding that long, which is no guarantee given how many rebels are complaining that fighting between the government and al-Qaeda forces is a “violation.” The documents leaked on the peace deal so far, however, suggest the ceasefire was never intended to include them.