Sochi is in the news, but not for a recap of the last winter Olympic Games or the beauty of its topography. Foreign Policy’s - U.N.-based senior diplomatic reporter, Column Lynch, writes a great article (Dancing to Russia’s tune in Syria) highlighting Russia’s increasing influence in the Middle East and Syria’s power transition. Back in late December, Saudi Arabia’s foreign minister, Adel al-Jubeir, called together a delegation of Syrian opposition leaders. His message was clear, Riyadh is throttling back its military support in efforts to overthrow Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad. Instead, their focus turns to developments in the yearlong efforts by Russia seeking a political deal in favor of Assad and Syria's transition.
With geopolitics sucking up all the air in the theatre, geopolitics also provides an elaborate stage with which to "play" foreign affairs” roulette on the hundreds of thousands of refugees wanting to return to Syria, EU and U.S. migration and immigration policies, as well as who will lead global economic prosperity in the next years. The upcoming Sochi “peace” conference will be hosted and led by Russia’s Putin. It should come as no surprise that their “diplomatic push” not only rivals the UN’s + five year official involvement for a peaceful transition, but it also rivals what appears to be a more passive U.S. stand on this transition and Russia acting as a host.
While there are some haws and hems coming out of Geneva to attend the conference, they can only attend if the U.S., Saudi Arabia, and other allies are in on the conferences. What is the likelihood of this happening with a U.S. stance that claims it owns the situation because its Kurdish partners control significant territory and U.S. troops are still on the ground? Do we legitimize Russia’s efforts by attending?
Russia is moving ahead with its diplomatic push. Is it too late for U.S. influence in this power grab? The U.S. administration is indicating they are open-minded to Moscow’s diplomatic effort. What they will not accept is a parallel process to Geneva. How is this effort not a parallel determination on Russia’s part? With all due respect, who are the honest brokers here? Didn’t such diplomacy get in the way of geopolitics in the last World Wars?