After a 10-day hiatus, the Geneva II peace talks on Syria resumed this week, and after a couple of days of talking are already on the brink of collapse, with UN Special Envoy Lakhdar Brahimi desperate to recruit the US and Russia to “unblock” the situation.
Brahimi claimed to have gotten some reassurances of their “support” for the process, but the indications are that neither of them has much in the way of novel ideas to get the talks back on track.
The issue is the same as it ever was, with the opposition looking to press on with plans for a “transitional government” dominated by them, and the Assad government saying the focus needs to be on the al-Qaeda takeover of northern Syria, since that’s going to be a problem no matter who’s nominally in charge.
The US has been trying to shoehorn a new set of threats of sanctions into a resolution on the matter, while the Russian government says they will veto the resolution for laying a groundwork for war. China has suggested they and Russia would be willing to help with an alternative resolution on increasing aid to Syria so long as it takes the threat of US invasion back off the table.
These are all the same problems that had the Geneva II talks, initially scheduled for last June, delayed until late January. At this point it seems to entire decision to hold the talks now may have been a mistake, with the lack of a clear route forward a recipe for inevitable failure.