To give you an overview of the latest news we’ve organized the latest Syrian developments in a curated summary.
Ceasefire Murmur Among Push for Peace Talks. Qadri Jamil, President Bashar al Assad’s Deputy Prime Minister, hinted at a ceasefire in an interview with The Guardian. He acknowledged that the war has reached a stalemate, saying that “neither the armed opposition nor the regime is capable of defeating the other side.” And he spoke to the demands the regime might make at a new round of proposed peace talks known as Geneva 2.
As you might have guessed, they’re called Geneva 2 because there was a Geneva 1. That meeting in June 2012 generated a proposed political transition plan for Syria (you can read the conference communique here). That plan was never implemented and the peace talks never reconvened for a second round, leaving the war to drag on (through a trail of failed ceasefires).
Tentative Progress Presages the General Assembly. While the U.S. waits for Syria’s chemical arms list , an inventory of the Assad regime’s chemical stockpile that is the first step forward in its Russian-brokered chemical-weapons deal , diplomatic momentum is mounting ahead of next week’s U.N. General Assembly.
Momentum towards what? More than a few things are in the making. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is pushing for U.N. Security Council action to enforce Syria’s agreement, moving its chemical weapons into international control. The U.N., the U.S. and Russia have said they hope to meet on the sidelines of the General Assembly, on or around September 28, to see if they can revive the peace process in Syria.
But it’s diplomacy with both Syria and Iran in the spotlight, as the new Iranian President Hassan Rouhani makes his first trip to the U.S. in that role. Rouhani has made friendly gestures ahead of the meet, offering to discuss Syria in a move toward brokering a peace deal. The New York Times described it as a diplomatic “turn of fortunes” – fraught with “opportunity and danger” as the U.S. looks to make headway with its most frustrating Middle Eastern foes. Issues around Iran and Syria are intertwined, in part because Iran is Syria’s most important regional ally, providing financial, political, and military support to boost the Assad regime.
Reckoning with the Rebel Rift. After fierce fighting on Wednesday, when al-Qaida-linked groups took the border town of Azaz, rebel groups agreed to a cease-fire. The clashes mark an escalating rivalry between jihadi groups (chiefly Jabhat al Nusra and the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria) and the more moderate brigades of the Free Syrian Army.
Some analysts see the bloody division as a good thing, a chance for moderates to take a stand against al-Qaida and prove themselves to the West. Others see the rebel rift as a sign that Syria’s war is more complex than ever. Max Fisher of the Washington Post called it “a very bad sign for the conflict,” wondering, “Did we just get a glimpse of Syria’s second civil war?”
Suggested Reads from Our Editorial Team:
The National: Deal with Kurds Gives Syrian Opposition a Boost
CNN/Tony Cordesman: Syria Problem is Not Going Away
AUDIO – Foreign Affairs + Syria Deeply: A Media Conference Call with Ambassador Richard Murphy, Michael Weiss, & Richard K. Betts
Economist: The Weakened West
Reuters Q&A: How Big Powers Plan to Rid Syria of CW