Syrian peace talks flounder as participants ask: Where is America?

The Washington Post reports: The vacuum in U.S. policy on Syria is being keenly felt at the latest round of peace talks aimed at negotiating a political solution to the Syrian war — talks that seem destined to wind down this week without meaningful progress.

Five days into a round of discussions intended to take place between delegations representing the Syrian government and the opposition, government and opposition negotiators still have not met. Instead, the talks, due to end Friday, have become snarled in debates about procedures and process without yet addressing the major issues surrounding the remote possibility of finding a political solution to the nearly six-year-old war.

These talks, known as Geneva IV because they represent the fourth round of discussions aimed at securing a political settlement on the basis of a communique drafted in Geneva by the United States and Russia in 2012, are taking place against the backdrop of a new regional balance of power in which Russia has the leading role in Syria.

For the first time, the United States is not taking the initiative in pushing for a negotiated settlement. The rout of rebels from their stronghold in eastern Aleppo in December was a defeat for U.S. policy as well as for the Syrian opposition, and it effectively left a vacuum of U.S. decision-making on Syria that has yet to be filled by the new Trump administration. [Continue reading…]

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