November 23rd, 2017 – Fort Russ News –
– Op-ed by Steven Sahiounie –
In a flurry of long distance flights, hotel food, and handshakes, the Syrian peace process has moved into high-gear.
Monday, Pres. Assad of Syria, and Pres. Putin of Russia met at the resort of Sochi, Russia to discuss the upcoming peace process meetings. At the same time, Pres. Assad took time to personally thank the Russian military leadership for their participation in saving Syria. He acknowledged the Russian military personnel who had laid down their lives in their mission as allies of Syria, and Russia’s own commitment to fighting global terrorism.
On the 22nd, Pres. Putin along with leaders of Iran and Turkey then met in a larger session in Sochi to discuss the upcoming series of meetings to advance the peace process in Syria. Russia, Turkey and Iran are regional neighbors and will each benefit from a peaceful Syria.
Also on the 22nd, a summit began for the Syrian opposition, tellingly in Saudi Arabia’s capital Riyadh. Recently up to 10 key members of the High Negotiations Committee resigned, including the head of the group Riyad Hijab, after they were told they would not be invited to the summit. The Saudi meeting was aimed at unifying the Syrian opposition behind realistic expectations and goals. President Assad is not leaving, and they need to accept that fact.
Those meeting in Saudi Arabia are expected to pack up and move to Geneva, Switzerland where on the 28th the UN Envoy to Syria, Staffan de Mistura will expect the Syrian government delegates to face the Syrian opposition delegates to discuss a peace settlement.
Finally, those weary travelers will pack up again, and fly to the resort of Sochi, Russia for the Syrian Peoples’ Congress, which will include about 33 Syrian opposition groups, some of whom will not have been at the Riyadh meeting. This will be a broad spectrum meeting of all the various personalities, and their many views for a transition to a new and peaceful Syria.
The Syrian conflict seemed to have been never ending, but all of a sudden, the recent battlefield victories have thrown all the regional players on the losing side into high-gear to make a deal, or lose everything. Surprisingly, the man who wrote “The Art of the Deal” is not included in what could go down as the biggest Middle East peace deal in decades.