Buzzfeed News quotes Rafik Hariri Center Resident Fellow Faysal Itani on the absence of the Syrian government and opposition from upcoming international peace talks:

In sitting down to negotiate with Iran and Russia, the U.S. is recognizing their increasingly powerful presence in Syria, as Russia pounds opposition fighters with airstrikes and Iran sends troops as reinforcements. One idea behind the talks is that the warring parties have become so reliant on foreign support that their backers, if an accord were reached, might be able to bring them into line.

But that thinking could backfire. “It’s very hard to make local players [in a conflict] do things that they see as not in their interests,” Itani said. “This is the age old question about patrons proxies: Who has the real power?”

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