This weekend’s Vienna talks on Syria are expected to center largely on deciding which Syrian factions are “rebels” to be invited to future rounds of talks, and which are “terrorists” to be excluded. All the nations involved are said to be pushing different lists for the decision.
Russian Deputy FM Mikhail Bogdanov, however, says that the US and Russian lists are in large measure the same, suggesting the disagreements aren’t nearly as broad as anticipated. Bogdanov added that several factions within the Free Syrian Army (FSA) are being urged to join the process by Russia.
Russia was supportive of inviting rebel factions to the Vienna talks in general, hoping to court them into their long-proposed unity government. So far there hasn’t been much support for that plan, but getting factions invited to the talks may give them some goodwill toward Russia and change their minds.
Other nations involved in the talks may still have wildly different terror lists for Syria, however, with Saudi Arabia expected to object to the inclusion of some of the larger Islamist factions’ inclusion as terror groups, since they’ve been openly backing them throughout the civil war. Turkey, on the other hand, is expected to push heavily to include Kurdish groups like the YPG on the list, even though both the US and Russia have been helping them.