Kazakhstan (GPA) – Peace talks began this week in Kazakhstan’s capital that will likely decide the fate of war-torn Syria. The United States won’t be attending.
The talks have been organized mainly by Russia, Turkey, and to a lesser extent Iran. Iran has made it clear that the United States delegation is unwelcome at peace talks due to their role breeding and supporting terrorism in the region. At the time, Iranian foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif stressed that the United States was also uninvited– which at the time was true.
Technically the US was given a formal invitation, but more as an afterthought. An invitation which Trump’s fresh State Department has decided to turn down. The only US representative present at the talks will be the US ambassador to Kazakhstan.
“The United States is committed to a political resolution to the Syrian crisis through a Syrian-owned process, which can bring about a more representative, peaceful, and united Syria,” a State Department release said.
The United States’ absence from the peace talks offer some hope that the new State Department might be willing to cooperate with Russia and Syria on eliminating the Islamic State and other terrorist groups such as the former Jabhat al-Nusra.
It is unclear yet exactly how this will play-out in the long run. Especially when the United States’ interests and the interests of their allies are taken into consideration. A major reason for the US entering Syria was to install a more Israel-friendly government. This would first of all prevent Iranian-allied militias like Hezbollah from building-up a strong presence around Israel. Putting an Israel-friendly government in Syria would also diminish resistance presence in the region as a whole– securing the US and their allies on the “winning” team in the Middle East.
The new Trump administration has already shown that they plan to cozy-up ties with Israel. On the campaign trail Trump expressed a tough-on-Iran attitude. His selection as Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, has expressed a desire to work with Russia in the past. It is unclear at this point what the new administration’s approach to Iran will be.
Iran has said it is “too early to asses” Trump’s remarks and intentions. They’re probably right.