Wednesday 1 November, 2017 Update: Russia Pushes Ahead With Plan for Renewed Syrian Peace Talks


In the aftermath of the Russian intervention on behalf of Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad and his government, Moscow has taken an active role in diplomatic efforts to bring the conflict to an end. As time went on following the introduction of Russian military forces, the fortunes of war turned irreversibly in Syria’s favor. Despite temporary setbacks, and a US military response to al-Assad’s use of chemical weapons earlier this year it is safe to assume that when the shooting finally ends in Syria, al-Assad will remain in power. The Syrian conflict is winding down, but without a formal diplomatic compromise involving all parties. This is where the problems begin.

The Syrian Conflict is ripe with players, both combatant and non-combatant. A final compromise cannot come about until all of them have an opportunity to carve a piece of the cake off for themselves. Unfortunately, the sheer number of parties involved assures that the mad dash for a piece of the cake will inevitably dissolve into a fight for the last morsel. The peace process promises to be every bit as difficult and bitter as the conflict itself.

Nevertheless, Russia is making a push to begin a fresh round of peace talks later this month in Sochi or possibly on the Russian military base in Latakia, Syria. The conference is being called the “Syrian Congress on National Dialogue” and is expected to discuss reconciliation, political reform and other issues that will be of utmost importance in post-war Syria. The newly proposed Syrian constitution will also be discussed. Anti-Assad rebels and other members of the Syrian Opposition are among the invitees, as are the Kurds. The inclusion of the Kurds has been surprising to many in the region. In all previous UN sponsored peace talks there hasn’t been a visible Kurdish involvement.

Turkey and Iran endorsed the Russian plan yesterday. The Syrian National Council, the primary Western-supported opposition group has denounced the effort as an attempt by Moscow to perform an end run around UN-supported peace talks in Geneva. To be fair, UN peace talks have accomplished little, however Russia’s motives are highly suspect. It is no secret that Moscow wants to redraw Syria, and the region in way that is supports Russia’s overall geopolitical goals.

A Very Brief Look At The Eastern Mediterranenan


This is break week and I’ve been relaxing as much as possible. Add to that the facts that the NCAA tournament began yesterday, and I accidentally deleted my planned post for yesterday. This post will be a short one. I’ll follow it up with a more detailed entries over the weekend and beyond. A naval themed piece on Sunday and Cyprus on Monday.

For now let’s take a brief look at the Eastern Mediterranean.

The Cyprus situation has caught me by surprise. I’ll admit it. I was looking the other way. My attention has primarily been on North Korea and Syria lately. The possibility of yet another Eurozone member in financial crisis didn’t even cross my mind. Yet, here we are. The Cyrpus crisis is interesting for many reasons, however, the potential instability it could bring to the Eastern Med is the one that has caught my eye. More on that Sunday.

In Syria, Assad is still in power but his strength is weakening significantly. His removal from power is essentially a foregone conclusion at this point. What’s yet to be determined is how messy his departure will be and what type of government replaces the Assad regime. The Syrian National Coalition is suffering from political infighting. Liberal minority members have accused the Muslim Brotherhood of assuming control. With the election of Ghassan Hitto, who was backed by the Muslim Brotherhood, Western support for the creation of an opposition government is going to be cool.

There are other potential flashpoints across the globe right now. But for the next six hours let’s all try to relax and focus on how our brackets are progressing. Back to the foreign policy issues tomorrow.