Four years into the Syrian Civil War, the UN General Assembly is discussing the possibility of a negotiated settlement of the conflict, with British Premier David Cameron and others suggesting more openness to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad remaining in power for a “transition” period.
Russia has been pushing this idea all along, advocating a “unity” government in Syria including the existing government and secular rebels, but has until the past few weeks faced enormous resistance from Western nations, and as recently as mid-September US officials were insisting they and Britain were agreed that Assad had to immediately go.
Syrian officials have long expressed openness to this sort of negotiation, though Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem today appeared dismissive of the prospect, saying he doubted after all the fighting that has gone diplomacy could lead to a real end of the war.
Indeed, much of the fighting over the Syrian talks right now is which nations will be allowed to participate, with the US said to be trying to exclude Western European nations for the talks on the grounds they aren’t “directly involved” in the war. Either way, factions that control most of Syria, ISIS and al-Qaeda, almost certainly will not be invited, which suggests that any deal will be limited to only a fraction of the overall war.