The latest round of Syrian peace talks has come and gone, and Russian officials couldn’t be happier, saying that they see a shift away from long-standing rebel demands for immediate regime change, and a willingness to actually try to negotiate a peace deal.
Russian Ambassador Alexei Borodavkin referred to this as a “correction” in the approach of the rebel factions attending the peace talks, as they are increasingly accepting of the reality that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad won’t be immediately removed from office, and that the reforms need to be part of an overall peace deal.
This has been a long time coming, as both rebels and US officials have long conditioned any agreements on immediate regime change, and presented the post-war reforms as including an absolute outlawing of any high-ranking Assad officials running for office.
Russia, however, has long insisted this needs to be up to the voters, and that it should be a free election after the reform constitution is drafted. With the rebels increasingly resigned to not winning the war outright, they may not like Assad, and they may still hope to ultimately sideline him, but they’re not letting those demands get in the way of the talks anymore.