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New round of Syrian peace talks to begin


New round of Syrian peace talks to begin

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Photo: Reuters

The Syrian government and opposition leaders will meet today in Geneva to discuss the settlement of a new constitution during a UN-brokered summit.

The talks come at a time when the Syrian regime is weakened due the US Caesar sanctions that came into effect in June—a condition that Washington hopes will force President Bashar al-Assad to accept concessions. Additionally, infighting in the country’s last rebel stronghold of Idlib has de-escalated since the March 5 ceasefire between Turkey and Russia. Despite minor skirmishes, the fragile agreement has since remained intact, but the regime’s recent military build-up in Idlib is telling of a potential resumption of violence.

While it is extremely unlikely that today’s talks with lead to the signing of a mutually accepted constitution, the two sides’ willingness to participate in the talks is alone an improvement.

A deficiency of the summit is its exclusion of the Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD)—a US ally that not only holds de facto control over northeast Syria, but whose military branch continues to be instrumental in fighting the Islamic State. Despite its weakened position since the gradual withdrawal of US troops from Syria and the Turkish incursion in 2019, any constitutional arrangement excluding the PYD is unlikely to be successful due to a strong backlash from the group.

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