The situation around Al Bab is threatening, not because of ISIL, but because of the possibility of frictions between Turkey-supported Euphrates Shield (ES) forces and Assad’s army. This possibility will not be dimmed even if the Russians coordinate the moves of the two sides with Ankara and Damascus. The personal behavior of any members or units, in addition to the chaotic chain of command in the two sides, may trigger a conflict between them.
But this is not the only problem in the Syrian picture at this moment. There is more serious problems looming on the coming Geneva talks. One of those problems is that there are three sides competing to represent Syria’s opposition: The Supreme Commission for Negotiations, the direct representatives of the armed groups on the ground, and the “opposition” preferred by the Russians and Assad.
However, this is the easiest problem. Both Riyadh and Ankara are engaged in an intensive effort to reconcile the positions of the first two. All opposition groups refuse the participation of the third, despite Sergei Lavrov’s and Staffan de Mistura’s insistence. Iran entered to complicate the matter a little more by demanding a separation between the military and political tracks. This will lead to alienating the armed opposition totally, thus pushing it to resist the talks and their results. In other words, if Tehran is given what it wants, the war will continue. And maybe this is what Tehran wants after all.
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