The Skeptics

Why Syria Could Become the Black Hole of the Middle East

If De Mistura is anticipating a better outcome in the eighth round than in the seventh, he’s going to be disappointed yet again. One doesn’t have to register a Kissingerian-like diplomatic I.Q. to recognize that, as long as Assad holds the cards, he’s not going to buckle one iota on political reform. If the Syrian regime was not willing to be pressured into providing political or major constitutional concessions before the Russian intervention—when its survival was very much an open question—then it’s certainly not going to do so when the war has gone Assad’s way for two years. To expect any differently is like expecting a billionaire to pay more money for a business that is going bankrupt just because the billionaire feels sorry for the guy selling the business.  Indeed, the decision of the Syrian delegation to walk away from the talks in Geneva on the grounds that the opposition continues to push for Assad’s immediate resignation is the clearest signal Damascus could have sent about its contempt for the entire process.   

At this point in the conflict, it’s hard to believe that the war will end through a political arrangement. And if it does end through such an arrangement, it’s not going to be one that Assad’s opponents will like.

Daniel DePetris is a fellow at Defense Priorities.

Image: A girl waves an opposition flag during an anti-government protest inside a 2nd century Roman amphitheater in the historic Syrian southern town of Bosra al-Sham, in Deraa, Syria March 4, 2016. REUTERS/Alaa Al-Faqir​

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