Let's call this wondering, thinking, contemplating via the blog.. my thinking is all italicized
New thoughts are in red...
Excerpt and additional links below:
It shouldn’t have been this hard, but Secretary of State John Kerry has finally gotten Russia to back the peace plan on Syria that it endorsed in principle last June.(? Russia endorsed the Geneva Plan last year) This isn’t a breakthrough, but at least it’s a beginning.
The U.S.-Russian formula, as expressed by one American official, ( ?"as expressed by one American official") is that Assad will step aside (step aside? as opposed to step down? and quite possibly stepping back into power?) “as part of a political process once a transitional governing body is formed.” The United States, in other words, is making Assad’s departure an outcome of the process, rather than a precondition. (sounds as if Assad may step aside, but, not step down) The Russians, in publicly backing the plan, are in effect pledging that they can deliver people in the Syrian government (missed that this a.m. this suggests that the Russian will be putting friendlies into place)who would be part of a post-Assad transition.
Kerry described the common goal this way as he was standing next to Sergei Lavrov, his Russian counterpart: “We’ve . . . affirmed our commitment to a negotiated settlement as the essential means of ending the bloodshed.”
But what will the United States and Russia do to implement this promise? Will the United States permit Iran to attend the international peace conference, as Russia likely will urge? The official U.S. position is that Iran shouldn’t attend. My guess is that President Obama would bend if he thought an Iranian role would create a more durable settlement of regional tensions.
Will the Russians lean hard on both Assad and the Iranians to force them to accept the reality that Assad is finished? “We are not interested in the fate of certain persons,” (This is not a new type of statement from Russia. This is in fact the same type of statement that has been made all along. This is not about Assad, this is about the decisions of the Syrian people etc.,) Lavrov said obliquely Tuesday. Lavrov spoke with Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moualem, a pragmatic figure who might be a transitional player. But it’s doubtful Moualem, or anyone else acceptable to the opposition, could deliver the regime’s hard-liners.
This peace plan, like so many others for the Middle East, is a bet that moderates can carry the day. With tragic regularity, this hope has proved to be misplaced. To succeed this time, the United States and Russia will have to empower some regional or international force that can step between the combatants after the transition begins and minimize the killing.(This is interesting, this seems to be a call for or an acknowledgement that peacekeeping forces will be put into Syria, including Russian peacekeepers. Is this where the compromise was reached? That Russia and the US will keep an eye on one another in Syria for an indefinite length of time?)
A moderate rebel faction (??spin) has finally begun to emerge behind Gen. Salim Idriss, the commander of the Supreme Military Council. (This is nonsense. Sheer nonsense. Idriss is in control of nothing and no one, he is the man the US has annointed," United States has tapped as its conduit for aid to the rebels" .I spent some time reading about him over the past couple days and have linked to a mcclatchy article above) He’s taking responsible positions — pulling back his forces from reprisal attacks after last week’s massacres of Sunnis in coastal villages. Idriss had also offered to negotiate with the regime, meet with the Russians, protect the Alawite community — and forswear chemical weapons.Idriss sounds to me as if he could be a prep for future NATO interventions
Keeping in mind that everyone involved is planning ahead.
The challenge for Idriss is to show that he can back these sensible positions with enough military muscle that his moderate forces, not the jihadists, hold the balance of power among the rebels. Idriss’s ability to deliver this command-and-control structure, in turn, depends on a real commitment by Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey to funnel all military assistance to the rebels through Idriss, not the jihadists.
Here, American diplomatic pressure will be crucial. To empower Idriss, the United States may expand its training and nonlethal assistance to include supplying weapons — even as its real hopes remain with a negotiated peace deal backed by Russia. (This tells me the US is going to stick with the planned move of arming the rebels)
For Russia, the Syrian endgame offers a test of President Vladimir Putin’s sincerity, and of his clout. He regally left the details to Lavrov Tuesday, after keeping Kerry waiting three hours. This lese-majeste may impress Russians, but it won’t get the job done on Syria. (Lavrov is plenty capable, so it's not a big deal that Putin let Lavrov deal with Kerry. Interesting, though that Putin left Kerry waiting for 3 hours?) If Putin has finally come to understand that Russia would potentially suffer most from the dissolution of the 1916 Sykes-Picot boundaries in the Middle East, then he will have to put his personal political energy behind the deal, rather than making a handoff to Lavrov.
Sykes Picot? Had to read up on that. Here
Basically France and Britain carving up the area for themselves. Throwing Imperial Russia a bone while dissolving the Ottoman Empire
From Rick Rozoff's place
Back to the ending of the WP piece:
The extremists also get a vote in this process, unfortunately. Hard-liners within Assad’s camp could step up their use of chemical weapons( continuing on with the spin/lies promoted by the NATO media) hoping to set off a regional bonfire. Sunni jihadists could slaughter Alawites, in revenge for past attacks but also to torpedo a peace deal.( Sunni jihadists, aided by US, Israel, GCC have been slaughtering Alawites, Christians and moderate Sunni's all along, what the hell is David Ignatious talking about)Hezbollah and Iran could decide that their interests would be so harmed by Assad’s removal that they would rather torch Syria and take their chances. And Israel could continue its recent attacks, (that can be counted on!) drawing Arab reprisals. (? Which Arab states would do that? The GCC countries are colluding with Israel)I haven't seen it begin, yet. Have you?
There are many ways this peace initiative could fail. But at least it has begun.