Peace talks in Geneva begin today, aiming to end the Syrian civil war. After last week’s Riyadh Summit, the opposition’s new chief negotiator Nasr al-Hariri said they will discuss “everything on the negotiating table”.
This follows Vladimir Putin’s meeting with Bashar al-Assad in Sochi, agreeing on the need for a new constitution and new elections. Putin has also proposed a congress between the warring sides. But, the opposition argues that holding parallel discussions is counter-productive as the political process should remain focused on Geneva.
Considering Russia’s successful pro-Damascus military intervention, the opposition is under enormous pressure to drop demands for Assad’s removal which may now be untenable. Putin’s plan to end Russia’s active military phase this year has encouraged speculation that the opposition may indeed soften its stance.
While not expecting an immediate breakthrough, UN-mediator Staffan de Mistura has said this could be the first “real negotiation”.
Start your day with an open-source intelligence briefing. Download The Daily Brief app.