In comments just days ahead of the Astana peace talks, Syria’s Deputy Foreign Minister has announced that his government is opposed to the participation of either Saudi Arabia or Qatar in the talks, saying their attendance should be conditioned on them ending their support for “militancy.”
That opposition seems very much beside the point, as Turkey announced both nations had been invited weeks ago, and they likely are not going to let the Syrian government veto invitations at the last minute like this, much as other nations’ recent comments on attendees haven’t been taken seriously.
In addition to the ceasefire’s three sponsors, Russia, Turkey, and Iran, officials had initially said Saudi Arabia, Syria, and Qatar would be invited. This was expanded to include the United States, with the invite coming to the incoming Trump Administration. Iran expressed opposition to US involvement earlier this week.
“Moderate” rebel factions are also being invited to the talks, and they have agreed to attend, with the leader of the rebel delegation a top figure in Jaish al-Islam. Neither ISIS nor the Nusra Front is invited, and at Turkey’s behest no Kurdish faction will be allowed to participate either.