Tomorrow, John Kerry will meet Sergei Lavrov and several of his other counterparts from Europe and the Mid-East in Munich in a last ditch effort to revive Syrian peace talks, which fell apart amid an intense Russian air assault on rebel positions in Aleppo.
For all intents and purposes, the rebels are surrounded. Initially, it appeared that the “moderate” opposition might be able to persist and bog down the Russians and the Iranians with the help of supplies from the US, Turkey, and Saudi Arabia. Those hopes faded over the past two weeks when Hezbollah advanced on Aleppo and ultimately encircled the city, cutting the rebels off from key supply lines and triggering a mass civilian exodus.
The talks in the Bavarian capital come at what is perhaps the most crucial point in the conflict to date. With the opposition on the ropes, it’s do or die time for Riyadh, Ankara, Doha, and the UAE. Either the Gulf monarchies send in ground troops to shore up the rebels or Hezbollah and the IRGC will overrun them in a matter of weeks - or perhaps even days.
Of course the opposition’s Sunni benefactors can’t exactly say they’re going into Syria to fight Iran and the Russians. Any ground incursion will be justified by the need to “fight ISIS” even though the Islamic State presence in Aleppo is markedly less pronounced than in other besieged urban centers like Raqqa and Deir ez-Zor. Indeed, the effort is so transparent that even the mainstream media has been forced to acknowledge it.
Here’s FT, for instance:
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