Aljazeera America quotes Brent Scowcroft Center Resident Senior Fellow for Middle East Security Bilal Y. Saab on how tensions between Saudi Arabia and Iran are complicating the Syria peace process:

But for many, those concerns belie the very low expectations they had for talks to begin with. “I don’t see this affecting the peace process, because the process was dead anyway,” said Bilal Saab, a Senior Fellow for Middle East Security at the Atlantic Council in Washington, D.C. “It doesn’t help that Saudi and Iran are more at odds now. But it won’t be the primary cause for why peace talks will fail.”


These substantive divides, more so than Riyadh and Tehran’s mutual animosity, are the reason for the diplomatic stalemate, Saab said. Opposition leaders have called on the regime to make trust-building concessions before talks begin, namely lifting sieges in certain towns like Madaya and halting its deadly barrel bombing campaigns. But it isn’t yet clear to diplomats what concessions the regime side will be willing to make, Saab said. “Beyond Assad [remaining in power], we’re not clear what the other red lines are. Certainly the Russians and Iranians have not communicated them to the Saudis,” he added.

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