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16th round of Syrian Astana Process talks to conclude

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16th round of Syrian Astana Process talks to conclude

syria war
Photo: Youssef Badawi/AAP/EPA

The 16th round of Astana talks—aimed at stabilizing the war and political crisis in Syria—conclude today in Kazakhstan’s capital, Nur-Sultan.

Led by Russia, Turkey and Iran, the Astana Process, which began in 2017, aims to provide opposing factions in Syria an international forum for negotiation and consensus-building. While Russia and Iran represent Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and his allies, Turkey promotes the interests of opposition forces. Despite noble symbolic goals, critics have decried the process for creating alternative negotiation tracks which favor Russia’s interests and undermine UN peace-building efforts.

The diplomatic outcomes of Astana talks have produced lackluster results, with no diplomatic successes in halting continued attacks in the critically unstable Idlib region. Expect today’s diplomatic efforts to instead highlight socioeconomic and epidemiological issues, with Russia especially calling for increased international aid to be delivered to Assad’s Syrian regime despite UN sanctions. In the long-term, the process is unlikely to provide a sustainable peace solution due to the exclusion of key rebel militant factions—such as the Islamic Front and the Syrian Democratic Forces—and due to the persistence of divisions between settlement guarantors.

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