A round of talks in Moscow has ended in failure, as Saudi Arabia rejected Russian calls to back an effort to unify all anti-ISIS forces, including the Assad government, with an eye toward deferring the question of government until after the war.
Saudi FM Adel Jubeir insisted Assad was to blame for the emergence of ISIS, and could never be allowed to be “part of the solution,” saying they would never accept him having any place in the future of Syria. Syrian officials slammed the comments.
The Saudi position is not surprising, as the Sunni kingdom has been openly backing rebels against the Alawite Assad government from the start. A secular unification to fight ISIS would run counter to Saudi goals of eventually installing a Sunni-dominated government in their sphere of influence in Assad’s place.
The US had previously spurned this idea too, but has more recently been said to be open to the idea, particularly with the US-trained rebel faction that was supposed to defeat ISIS failing so spectacularly. That doesn’t mean it’s going to happen, however, with the Saudis but one faction liable to object, and years of money and effort being pumped into various factions, a lot of nations won’t want to give up on the idea that their chosen power will win the war outright.