Algerian envoy attempts to kick-start peace talks
Both sides recently have been focused more on fighting.
BEIRUT — Peace envoy Lakhdar Brahimi made a new push Thursday to draw Syrian officials and rebels into negotiations, aiming to revive a plan for a transitional government and elections that faltered because of disagreements over the future of President Bashar Assad.
The effort by the Algerian diplomat came after weeks in which both sides in Syria have been focused more on fighting. Rebels appear to be making gains, seizing military bases and fighting for control of suburbs around the capital, Damascus.
Earlier this week, the head of Syria’s military police announced he had defected, joining a number of other officers and soldiers who have deserted Assad’s government. Maj. Gen. Abdul-Aziz Jassem Shallal accused the government of turning into “a gang that is killing and destroying.”
In a boost for Brahimi, Russia’s foreign minister said after meeting with a senior Syrian official that his country endorsed the peace plan crafted in summer, and that Syrians on both sides of the 21month conflict needed to enter a dialogue.
However, any effort to find a peaceful solution could founder on disagreement over the role of Assad in a transitional government.
Washington has demanded Assad go. Moscow has distanced itself from the Syrian president in recent weeks, but has refused to break with Assad. But even if the international community can agree, the Syrians themselves might not go along. Assad has vowed to stay in office while rebels refuse anything less than his ouster.