Can the Syria meeting in Saudi Arabia bring unity?

Five years after the war started, the current push for a political solution in Syria faces many roadblocks.

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    The fact that a large number of Syrian opposition, rebels and activists are meeting in Saudi Arabia's capital Riyadh is significant. Those groups represent different ideologies, aspirations and interests.

    The aim of the gathering is to form a united opposition front, and to form one delegation to negotiate a political solution with the government of President Bashar al-Assad - to end the war and start a new transitional process in Syria.

    This could appear straightforward and achievable. But the reality is quite the opposite.

    Explained: Who's fighting whom in Syria?

    Reality on the ground

    First of all, the Syrian regime doesn't really recognise the opposition.

    In his latest interviews, President Assad said there were no moderate Syrian opposition groups. "They are all radicals," he said.

    That position is shared by Russia, while Iran is also not happy about the meeting in Riyadh.

    Secondly, regional and international powers are not united on the best way forward, or on how to end the war.

    They also disagree on the fate of President Assad himself.  

    Russia's military involvement, which started two months ago, turned things upside down.

    It gave the Syrian government and army a huge lift, while making the opposition and rebel forces feel they were the weaker elements of the Syrian equation.

    The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) group's attacks on Paris have helped in changing people's mindsets - possibly handing President Assad a lifeline.

    No end in sight

    France's stance on Assad's fate has softened. The key goal now for Paris is fighting ISIL, and France doesn't mind if it gets the help of Syrian government forces and the cooperation of President Assad.

    The US Secretary of State John Kerry has also changed his words, saying he doesn't know what Assad's future will be - after previously saying that Assad has no future in Syria.

    Clearly the positions of many major players are fluctuating.

    The Syrian opposition and rebels are not certain what the future will be, even if they do unite. 

    The whole process is vague and there are no guarantees.

    Will this current political process succeed in ending the conflict? I don't think so.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera


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