Though US and other Western officials continue to talk up the idea that the Vienna talks on Syria are going to soon yield a broad peace deal and a transition plan, comments today from both President Obama and Syrian President Bashar al-Assad suggest such a deal is far away.
Russia has been leading the charge for the deal, calling for constitutional reforms leading up to an election in 18 months. This has faced some resistance from nations insisting Assad can’t participate in the elections, and Obama today reiterated that sentiment, saying he would never allow Assad to run for election.
Assad’s own comments were less hostile to the idea of elections in general, but he noted today he doesn’t see how an election will be possible with most of the country out of the control of the government. Though it’s possible an election could be held with some territory in participating rebel hands, that’s not really the case either, as ISIS holds more than half of the country.
Assad says he thinks defeating ISIS should come ahead of any political solution, though he also suggested he doesn’t trust UN observers to monitor the elections at any rate, which points to there not being much chance that he’s going to go willingly into elections with a realistic chance of losing.