After the first round of “Syrian” peace talks in Geneva amounted to just the United States and Russia, the much-vaunted Geneva II looks like it will be similarly sparsely attended, with Lebanon seen as extremely unlikely to send representatives.
Officials familiar with the situation say UN Special envoy Lakhdar Brahimi has invited Lebanon, and intense conversations are underway between President Suleiman and Prime Minister Mikati for a “diplomatic way” to say no.
Saudi Arabia hasn’t even been invited yet, with Russia still concerned about their overt support for Islamist rebels, but they seem to be in the same boat, having warned Brahimi against inviting them, telling him he needs permission before extending the invite to Saudi officials.
Russia’s qualms about Saudi Arabia and America’s qualms about Iran mean neither is liable to turn up, and none of the Syrian rebel factions have agreed to participate either, with several openly spurning the idea of peace. The Assad government seems to have been convinced to participate, but they say they aren’t holding out much hope for a deal, and that seems a reasonable assessment given how hard it is to get anybody to show up at the talks.