‘Secret’ Syria peace talks: Mark on the radio

The talks are not exactly secret, but most people don’t know about them. I discussed this a few minutes ago with host P.J. Maloney on KQV News Radio in Pittsburgh.

The second round of the talks took place with absolutely no fanfare last week in Astana, Kazakhstan. The lack of fanfare was deserved. Taking part were Russia, Iran, Turkey and nine of the 14 rebel groups that attended the first round. The UN sent a low-ranking official, while the official UN envoy to Syria went to Moscow instead.

The US and the rest of the West didn’t even take part. That’s one reason there’s been so little news coverage.

The outcome? There wasn’t any, not even a pro-forma final communique. Turkey, Iran and Russia worked on implementing their December cease-fire that didn’t take hold, the rebels complained about the violations, and nothing was accomplished.

Yet the Russians are playing this as a success. There’s an old saying that talk-talk is better than fight-fight, but both at the same time?

I suspect that Russia is realizing that it can’t win in Syria and is looking for a way out. P.J. likened this to the “peace talks” that enabled the US to get out of Vietnam, and I agree–but Russia still needs to solidify its own interests in Syria, primarily its military bases.

So this process won’t bring about peace in Syria, but it should get interesting.

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