Many of Syria’s warring parties descend on Sochi for Russian-sponsored talks

Many of Syria’s warring parties descend on Sochi for Russian-sponsored talks

Sochi welcomes over 1,500 participants for the Syrian National Dialogue Congress, which convenes for the next two days. This Russian

Bashar al-Jaafari (C) is pictured ahead the start of talks on Syria in Vienna

Photo: Reuters/Alex Halada

Sochi welcomes over 1,500 participants for the Syrian National Dialogue Congress, which convenes for the next two days. This Russian initiative is meant to provide representatives of the Syrian regime, opposition and Kurdish forces a stable environment to negotiate the end of the Syrian civil war and the drafting of a new constitution.

The conference closely follows the eighth round of UN-sponsored peace talks in Vienna that again fell short of producing comprehensive solutions. Both Syrian opposition and Western leaders have expressed suspicion that Russia’s hosting the Congress is an attempt to usurp the UN’s peace efforts with the intention of swaying Syria’s political future towards one favoring President Bashar al-Assad under Russian backing. Consequently, Syrian opposition groups have refused to participate in Sochi.

The talks take place amid tension regarding the roles of Russia, Turkey and Iran as the guarantors of de-escalation agreements in the Idlib and Ghouta regions that have recently experienced devastating offensives by the Syrian military and Turkey. Expect the Syrian National Dialogue Congress to be met with accusations of Russian hypocrisy and a lack of recognition of the talks as a legitimate step in the Syrian peace process.

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