Saudi Arabia undermines Vienna peace process by holding conference of Sunni, anti-Assad groups

It is called a “Peace Conference”. It is being hosted and held by Saudi Arabia and only Sunni groups are invited. The Kurds are not invited and, of course, there isn’t a Shia in sight. The Sunni groups include those who are allied with Al Qaida and members of the Fee Syrian Army and including groups within the FSA which do channel funds and weapons to ISIS. The theory that ISIS and Al Qaida are not present is a fantasy. The intention is to unify the anti-Assad, Sunni forces.

Suadi is just stirring the waters to ensure that no Russian/Assad/Iran end-game can easily succeed.

Iran is not amused.

David Cameron is gratified because if he counts all these disparate groups together, and adds in the Kurds and maybe a few hundred Turkmen also, he might get to a number which is the same order of magnitude as 70,000 “boots on the ground”. (i.e. >7,000 and < 700,000).

NewsweekA Syrian opposition meeting due to begin in Saudi Arabia on Tuesday marks the most serious effort yet to unify President Bashar al-Assad’s fragmented enemies, a step seen as vital to peace talks sought by world powers but which has riled Iran.

While the outlook for the political track recently launched in Vienna appears bleak – international divisions over Assad persist and the war in Syria has escalated – the Riyadh meeting offers the prospect of forging a more united opposition better able to negotiate with the government. …….. 

The participants invited to Riyadh include powerful Islamist factions Islam Army and Ahrar al-Sham – a group whose founders had links to al Qaeda. Ahrar al-Sham still fights alongside the Nusra Front, al Qaeda’s Syrian wing, while espousing a nationalist agenda.

Islam Army said in a statement that its commander, Zahran Alloush, would not attend because the group had lost control of the road he had been planning to use to exit the area in the Damascus suburbs where the group is based. Members of Islam Army’s political office will attend instead, it said.

A dozen Free Syrian Army rebel groups will also attend, including groups vetted by the United States that have received foreign military aid. They include recipients of U.S.-made anti-tank missiles supplied to rebels in larger quantities since Russia intervened militarily on Assad’s side on Sept. 30.

A Saudi end-game which has all these Sunni groups assuming power can only lead to the dissolution of Syria (and maybe that is a good thing). But it will also lead to a break up of Iraq. It will establish a Kurdistan, a Shia- ruled territory and a desperately fractured Sunni area with a bunch of squabbling groups.

And ISIS will still be around.

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