Syria is becoming a land of extremes. Extreme optimism for war planners on both the regime and rebel sides of the civil war, and even more extreme pessimism for the new UN envoy trying to get the two sides talking.
When special envoy Lakhdar Brahimi termed his job “nearly impossible” yesterday, he wasn’t kidding. Efforts to convince the regime to talk to the rebels and vice versa are being spurned by both sides, as both remain convinced they’re going to win militarily.
Information Minister Omran al-Zoebi insisted that the government remains open to talks, but only after the military entirely crushes the rebels nationwide. No doubt that would be a good bargaining position, but is it realistic after months of civil war have amounted to very little territory change?
But if Zoebi can be criticized for being overly optimistic about the regime’s change, one cannot help but notice the rebels are doing the exact same thing, saying they will only talk after they have forced Assad from power through sheer strength of arms.
In the end, neither side seems anywhere near the breakthrough moment where they win a crushing victory, and while both sides might conceivably gain from negotiations they each seem so convinced of their imminent victory that they aren’t even considering such talks. Brahimi, who both sides have condemned as a poor selection for UN envoy, really does have his work cut out for him.