NPR quotes Rafik Hariri Center Resident Senior Fellow Frederic C. Hof on Secretary of State John Kerry’s strategy for Syria:

KELEMEN: Well, he did end the year on somewhat of a high note on that. The U.N. Security Council endorsed his diplomatic plan – the one that he’s been working on for months. He managed to get Iran and Russia around the table with Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Jordan and others to push all of their proxies in Syria to negotiations. And those talks are set to begin as early as January. But there are a lot of skeptics, Renee. I spoke recently to a former State Department official on Syria, Fred Hof, who describes Kerry’s strategy really as a wish and a hope that Russia and Iran are both going to come around to the U.S. position, and that is that there’s no place for their client, Bashar al-Assad, in Syria’s future.

FRED HOF: I don’t think the secretary of state or the administration at large can be faulted for pursuing a diplomatic outcome to this crisis. But I think there’s always the danger that a process can end up being, in effect, an open-ended permission slip for continued mass murder in Syria.

KELEMEN: And Hof tells me that, you know, if Russia can’t get the Assad regime to stop besieging cities or dropping indiscriminate bombs, it probably won’t be able to get the Assad government to really engage in peace talks.

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