UN officials were upbeat about the most recent round of Syrian peace talks in Geneva, as despite a lot of arguing from both sides, there were some actual talks on substance and detail, which is something that has been in short supply in previous meetings, which mostly focused on procedures.
At the same time, UN officials say that the “real” peace talks haven’t really begun yet, and that a lot of the efforts reight now are just laying the groundwork for what will be a more serious future effort to try to resolve the protracted Syrian War.
UN Special Envoy Staffen de Mistura said it was still too early to expect a “breakthrough” in the talks, but said the fact that no one stormed out of the most recent round of talks was extremely encouraging, despite “serious challenges” that yet remain.
Both the government and rebels complained that they believe the other side doesn’t want to reach a settlement, with the rebels saying there was no dealing with the government, and government officials saying that the rebels unrealistically expect them to just hand over power to them.
The US may have given some support to progress on a settlement, saying that the future of President Assad is up to the Syrian people. This is not sitting well with the rebels, however, who have long maintained that Assad could never have any future position, irrespective of the voters’ wishes.