Syrian opposition figure Riad Hijab warned today his faction was having a hard time justifying attending the UN brokered peace talks in Geneva, blaming US “backtracking” on the future of Syrian President Bashar Assad to placate Russia.
US officials have bounced around on the question of Assad in the past couple of months, suggesting at times that Assad might stay but then turning around and demanding his immediate ouster. Last week, the State Department was reported to have a plan that would see Assad stay in power through March 2017.
Hijab complained that the US plan now would be the creation of a joint government that would leave his faction “a few ministries” as opposed to being installed outright in power, which officials had long indicated was the plan.
Hijab had suggested a few days ago his group was unlikely to attend if Russia didn’t agree to end all airstrikes, and indeed the Syrian government hasn’t agreed to attend without a list of who the rebels invited will be to make sure it doesn’t include “terrorist” groups. All in all, the talks seem doomed to failure.