Mission Creep Toward Full-Scale War on Syria
Thursday, May 23, 2013
On May 20, Secretary of State John Kerry headed back to the Middle East. It’s his fourth regional visit since January.
On May 21, he met Oman’s Sultan Qaboos. An air defense system/weapons sale, Syria, and related issues were discussed.
On May 22, he met with foreign ministers of 11 so-called Friends of Syria countries. He did so in Amman. Opposition group representatives also attended.
Among other issues, they discussed the US/Russian proposed peace conference. A Geneva June 10 date is scheduled. Reports suggest both Syrian officials and opposition representatives will attend.
At the same time, mixed messages were sent. On the one hand, senior opposition members said participation’s conditional on Assad stepping down. He has no intention to do so. Syrians alone must decide who’ll lead them. It’s their right.
On the other hand, one senior opposition member said no decision on Geneva was reached.
“Both parties are taking advantage of the gray area and have decided it is right to take part” he said.
From the regime’s point of view, this is a good starting point, especially in light of its claims of achievements on the ground.
At the same time, the opposition can gain strength and legitimacy and even take part in a future government if the parties reach agreement on a transition period.