Brent Scowcroft Center Resident Senior Fellow for Middle East Security Bilal Y. Saab writes for Foreign Affairs on Saudi Arabia’s plan for Syria and whether it can succeed:

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has made it clear that he has no interest in negotiating with rebels, whom he considers “terrorists.”His allies, Moscow and Tehran, also continue to rebuff demands for him to step down. So did it matter that, last week, members of the Syrian opposition repeated their calls for Assad’s removal in a conference in Riyadh? It is hardly consequential in the near term. But the conference’s goal—to put the Syrian opposition’s house in order—is a worthy one. In fact, it is critical for international efforts to end the civil war.

Riyadh, along with Ankara and Doha, is committed to toppling Assad. Yet what all three capitals have finally realized is that the Syrian leader’s departure, whether by force or negotiation, cannot be achieved without a more coherent Syrian opposition that can speak with one voice in international fora and effectively join arms on the battlefield. Of course, unifying the huge mess that is the Syrian opposition is easier said than done. And it’s not like it hasn’t been tried before. Over the past four years, none of the attempts by various countries to unify the rebels and the politicians has worked. And so, Saudi Arabiawill try to succeed where others before it have failed, even though its own record of bringing together rival Palestinian groups over the years has not been stellar.

Read the full article here.