Though the Russians continue to hold out hopes for progress, it seems that discussions between US President Obama and Russian President Putin at the G20 summit on Syria ended in deadlocked.
Photos of the two men together show grim unsmiling faces, suggesting that little or no progress has been made.
The discussions appear to have moved away from the wildly impractical plan US Secretary of State Kerry took with him a few weeks ago to Moscow, which would have involved the Russians agreeing to the removal of Syrian President Assad in return for a junior place in the US anti-ISIS coalition.
As The Duran discussed before, the Russians turned that proposal down flat, as they were bound to do.
The latest US proposal – leaked to Reuters in the form of a letter dated 3rd September 2016 from Michael Ratney, the US’s Syrian envoy, to the Syrian opposition – is far more modest. Apparently it proposes a ceasefire between the Syrian government and the Syrian factions the US supports in return for an offer of joint military action by the US and Russia against ISIS and Al-Qaeda (presumably that means Jabhat Al-Nusra).
The overriding problem with this proposal is that the US promised as far back as February that it would arrange the separation of the Syrian factions it supports from Jabhat Al-Nusra. It has completely failed to do so, and the Russians are unlikely to be impressed with more US promises to do the same thing until and unless they actually see it happening.
A further sticking point is sure to be a US demand (according to Reuters) for
“….the withdrawal of Damascus’s forces from a key supply route north of Aleppo.”
That appears to refer to the Castello road, recaptured by the Syrian army in July, which the US apparently wants the Syrian army now to abandon, bringing the siege of the Jihadi held districts of eastern Aleppo to an end.
Coming directly after the defeat in south western Aleppo of the Jihadi attempt to break the siege of the Jihadi held districts of eastern Aleppo, that is a very bold – some might say astonishingly bold – demand to make. Not surprisingly, it seems the Russians have rejected it.
Reports suggest that the most the Russians are prepared to offer is the opening of humanitarian corridors to the Jihadi held districts of eastern Aleppo together with a demand that the Jihadi fighters in eastern Aleppo either evacuate the city or lay down their arms by mid September.
In truth the distance between the US and Russia over Syria seems as great as ever. The US continues to search for ways to achieve Russian acceptance of a Jihadi victory and regime change in Syria, despite the fact that this is something which the Russians have repeatedly made clear they will never agree to.
Unless and until this US policy changes – which realistically can now only happen after November’s election – the diplomatic deadlock will continue.
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of The Duran.