UN-brokered talks intended to bring the government of Bashar al-Assad and the Syrian opposition to the table entered their second day Tuesday (BBC), amid few signs of progress. The meetings, which mark Syria’s first peace talks in two years, come after bombings in Damascus Sunday killed at least forty-five people. The self-proclaimed Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attacks. Meanwhile, representatives from nearly two dozen nations gathered in Rome to discuss the continuing fight against the Islamic State. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said that the group has gained ground in Libya (Reuters), in addition to bolstering its presence in Iraq and Syria.
“The ‘Geneva process’ is no more likely to succeed today than it was the last time it was tried, in 2014. Should they ever sit down, those on the other side of the table — the Syrian regime of Bashar al-Assad, Russia, and Iran — will not feel compelled to accept any offer to which Syria’s rebels or their backers in the region could possibly agree. So what’s Plan B? Ha. There is no Plan B,” writes James Traub for Foreign Policy.
“The tragedy for Syria is that, even as talks enhance Mr. Assad’s legitimacy and strengthen his hand, they will further discredit the moderate opposition, which is being pressured to participate in a transitional government with the same regime most Syrians are desperate to overthrow. The dragooning may further embitter moderates toward the U.S., while strengthening claims by Islamic State and the Nusra Front that they are the only serious Sunni opposition to the Shiite regime,” writes the Wall Street Journal.
“[T]here is a sense of alarm in what ISIS is planning to do across the regions involved in the multiple sides present in the current round of discussions. It is highly probable that ISIS will try to continue to scuttle the talks to take strategic and tactical advantage through its own shock and awe,” writes Theodore Karasik for Al Arabiya.
CFR-Daily News Brief