U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry (L) and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov meet in Geneva, Switzerland, to discuss the crisis in Syria, September 9, 2016 © Kevin Lamarque / Reuters
Fred Kaplan, Slate: The Syrian Peace Talks Were a Waste of Time
The U.S. and Russia have completely different interests.
The main reason for the collapse of U.S.–Russia peace talks over Syria is that Washington and Moscow have fundamentally different interests in that country.
Vladimir Putin wants above all to preserve Syria as a politico-military foothold—Russia’s only such foothold outside the former Soviet Union. He could do so without keeping Bashar al-Assad in power as Syria’s president—Russian diplomats have decried Assad as a nuisance—except that there is no trustworthy successor in the wings. To the contrary, Putin fears (with some reason) that, if Assad goes, ISIS or some group like it would move in and take over Damascus.
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WNU editor: This round of peace talks was certainly not a success .... and both sides are guilty of it. The Russian policy to not bend on having Syrian President Assad replaced certainly did not help, and the confusing nature of what the U.S. wants did not help the discussion. I have said more than once in this blog that U.S. policy in Syria is an enigma to me. It is contradictory, confusing, halfhearted, and totally devoid of any leadership .... starting from the Oval Office on down. My guess is that the Russians finally figured that out in the past few weeks when they realised that aside from helping to supply weapons to the rebels, the U.S. has little if any influence over the many rebel factions that are now fighting in Syria .... thereby making any agreements on ending the Syrian war void. But .... I am still optimistic that these talks will eventually lead to something. There will be a day when there will be REAL peace talks on Syria .... and the U.S. has to be involved because they are the only ones who can pressure the Gulf states who are directly helping the Syrian rebels. When that day will happen is something that I do not know .... but these talks and discussions have to continue so that when the day does arise for a cessation of the war, the structure is in place to get the "real" discussions moving.