Diplomacy yet to work in Syria
US, Russia have amped up diplomatic efforts to solve the Syrian crisis

International diplomacy efforts to find a political solution in Syria have yet to bear fruit as the civil war in the country entered its fifth year in March 2015.

In an attempt to find common ground with other countries pursuing contrary policies, and as one of the leading actors in this arena, Russia has recently proposed a new plan to fight Daesh, which includes forming a new international coalition of Syrian regime forces and opposition groups, including Kurds and neighboring countries.

The rationale behind the plan, according to Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, is the inefficiency of anti-Daesh airstrikes, which Russia opposes, and considers a violation of international law and of Syria’s national sovereignty.

Lavrov also claims the possible airstrikes against the Syrian regime launched to protect opposition groups would undermine the fight against Daesh.

Russia has reportedly invited the leading Syrian opposition group, the Syrian National Coalition, to Moscow next week in a bid to restart the long-stalled peace talks.

Another factor behind the recent move is Daesh’s efforts to gain ground in the North Caucasus, leaving Russia face to face with the group.

Becoming a part of international efforts to fight Daesh may also give Russia an opportunity to fight more effectively the around 2,000 militants in the North Caucasus. It may also grant international recognition to the fight against other militant groups in the region which have not yet declared allegiance to Daesh.

Moscow would also like to re-establish Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad as a legitimate contact.

The U.S., on the other hand, insists on a solution without Assad, saying he has no place in Syria’s future, which is also the policy pursued by Turkey.

Washington and Moscow seem ready to work together against Daesh though, as Lavrov has said, the two countries have agreed to join efforts in the fight against the militant group Wednesday.

Although there is not a "common approach on how specifically this can be done, taking into account the contradictions between the various players," experts from the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the U.S. State Department will continue to work together, under the guidance of current initiatives, he adds.

The U.S.-led international coalition against Daesh has been launching airstrikes against Daesh bases in Syria since June 2014.

The U.S. also maintains its goal of pursuing the train-and-equip program, whereby moderate opposition members are trained to fight Daesh. The program is also supported by Turkey, Qatar and Saudi Arabia.

Russia opposes the deployment of U.S.-trained forces in Syria, but calls for the use of Syrian ground forces against Daesh, as airstrikes are not enough to defeat the militant group.

On the other hand, Iran, which supports the Syrian regime, would also like to get involved in the process after having been excluded from the Geneva talks.

Tehran has called for a prompt cease-fire, formation of a national unity government, a constitutional reform to ensure the rights of all ethnical and sectarian groups in Syria, as well as an election under the supervision of international observers.

The U.S. has ruled out Iran’s participation in the effort if Tehran intends to support Assad.

"If Iran could play a constructive role it would be one in which it doesn't support the Assad regime," State Department spokesman Mark Toner said Thursday.

"The Assad regime, frankly, is the root of all evil here. It has created the conditions in which we find ourselves and frankly, the poor Syrian people find themselves today. So, any covert or overt support to that regime is a nonstarter," he said.

Last Modified: 2015-08-08 07:52:55
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