The U.S., the U.N., and Russia won’t yet confirm it – they’re still working out complicated details like who will attend, which voices can credibly represent the disjointed set of players fighting against the Assad regime.
Much rests on the Syrian opposition – how capable and cooperative they’ll be in the lead up to talks. The Syrian National Coalition, a political umbrella group, has operated in exile and lacks for legitimacy on the ground. The International Crisis Group published a powerful diagnostic of the opposition this week, detailing its weak spots and examining what it would take to shape a lasting peace at the negotiating table.
“Any viable resolution of the war will require emergence of a credibly representative opposition,” the Crisis Group wrote. “[The Coalition] will need to dramatically bolster its presence on the ground, opposition backers will have to streamline their assistance, and all must develop a strategy to deal with the growing jihadi phenomenon.”
If there’s one untapped hope for Syria it’s the rise of the country’s civil society, scores of Syrians banding together to push for peace, eke out a livelihood, and speak out against Al Qaeda. Their challenge is to be heard, amid all the noise of armed extremists and those fighting for political power.
While they wait for any sign of impending stability, the fighting continues to accelerate. This week, it was flashpoint Deir Ezzor, as fierce clashes raged in the wake of a rebel sniper hit that killed one of Assad’s top generals. It’s a reminder that while Assad has reclaimed a lead in the balance of power, both sides are suffering a loss in the brutal war of attrition.