Ambassadors from Russia, Iran and Turkey met in Moscow Tuesday to engage in negotiations regarding the ongoing crisis in Syria, intentionally excluding Secretary of State John Kerry.
No U.S. representative attended the talks, nor was the United Nations invited to attend. The lack of any Western representation is yet another sign that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, his Russian and Iranian allies will have their way in Syria, solidifying another failed attempt on Kerry’s part to seek a diplomatic solution to the problem.
The U.S. Department of State maintained a positive view of the negotiations, despite being left out of them.
“[If the talks] lead to a sense of calm enough in Syria that political talks can resume, then that would be great and that’s what we’d like to see,” State Department Spokesman John Kirby told the New York Times Tuesday. He added a skeptical note, saying that “we have seen repeated promises to a appropriately influence the Assad regime in the right way on the cessations of hostilities and seen those fail.”
Kerry’s previous attempts at negotiation in Syria were all abject failures. His meetings with his Russian counterpart earlier this month effectively handed the war-torn city of Aleppo over to Assad’s forces, which led to several civilian massacres. The White House congratulated Kerry’s “skilled, principled, tough, tenacious diplomacy” preemptively when asked about the deal which effectively handed over the most important battleground in Syria.
Kerry initially met with various interested parties in Geneva in February ostensibly to reach a potential ceasefire agreement. The talks began Feb. 1 and were suspended only two days later. A tentative “cessation of hostilities” was concluded Feb. 27, but it fell apart almost immediately after Russia and Syria resumed air strikes shortly after it was finalized. Another attempt at a truce failed in late September, leading Kerry to cut off bi-lateral talks with Russia in early October. Kerry resumed talks in Lausanne, Switzerland Oct. 15. The meetings failed to produce any tangible results.
Turkey’s attendance at the talks comes at a time when its relations with both the U.S. and Russia risk falling apart completely. The assassination of the Russian ambassador in Turkey Monday by a Turkish special police offer risked scuttling the meeting, but Russia insisted the talks would continue unfettered.
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