The first stage of the Vienna meeting has concluded with significant progress. The terrorist supporters trying to force Assad out had to accept that they had no power to do it; and Syria’s allies were not going to assist them in doing that, after the West, Turkey, Israel and the Gulf States had initiated the largest attempt in the 21st century to execute a regime change, using terrorists in military unit formation.
The highlights of today’s work include an agreement that Syria will remain a unified, independent secular state, and with all of its state institutions in place.
They agreed that Daesh and all other UN-designated terrorist organizations must be defeated. As al-Qaeda and al-Nusra are on that list, then this would require the US, Turkey and the Gulf States to stop supporting them, which I don’t think they have any intention of doing.
A separate meeting will be scheduled to come up with an agreed upon list. This will be a Gordian knot, as the “opposition groups” are not going to be the target, and suspicious me expects to see their ranks swell over the next week or so. The war will continue against the agreed upon groups, and the others will have in effect a no fly zone over their heads, which could be a Trojan horse.
Opposition groups could literally rent accommodations to the listed terror groups for some extra cash, which almost no one in Syria turns down after five years of war. How this future ceasefire would be monitored has not been decided.
Another hurdle will be the admission and mapping of the evasive opposition-held territories to prevent accidental bombings — something their backers have been lax to cooperate on, as we suspect their numbers outside the Southern areas are so insignificant as to not earn them a place at the table.
VT feels that the Russian offer to engage with them has primarily been a ploy to reveal what a small puffed up group they are, with almost no political support outside the CIA. The same can be said for the Gulf State terrorists, most of whom are mercenaries from about 100 countries.
Humanitarian supply access is to be opened to all areas; again no specifics as to how security could be provided for these people, but it does spell some relief for the long-suffering Syrian people, with winter just around the corner.
The other good news is this progress should decrease the flow of refugees and the numbers that would actually qualify, especially the Syrians, if a ceasefire is implemented, since refugee services could be provided to them much less expensively in their respective countries.
The other biggie, which surprised me, was the mention that the future of Syria will be decided by the Syrian people… Syrian-led and owned. This seemed a bit incongruous, because in the post meeting talks, there were still mentions by some negotiators rejecting this; saying that, while it was OK for Assad to remain in a transition government, they could not see a peaceful resolution with Assad in power. That does not sound like the Syrian people deciding their future to me, but more Western conniving.
They plan to meet in this same format in two weeks. The participants are Russia, the US, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Iraq, Italy, Egypt, Great Britain, Germany, Lebanon, Qatar, Iran, France, China, the UAE, Jordan, Oman, the EU and the UN. Israel did not attend.
Our hope is that this is not just a delaying tactic to get a ceasefire in time to stop the progress the Russians are making on all the terrorist groups. I am suspicious that the only goal the terror supporters have is to get their proxy troops out from under the bombing and rebuild them, while they drag the talks out Israeli-style.