June 17, 2013, 11:04 AM (IDT)
The lovely lakeside venue for the two-day gathering of US, Russian, Canadian, French, German, Italian, British and Japanese leaders was worlds away from the Syrian killing fields, where 93,000 people have died, according to conservative estimates. But the Russian president will make sure that the voices of his allies, Bashar Assad, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and Hassan Nasrallah, are heard loud and clear in the conference hall, until they are acknowledged the victors of the vicious Syrian war. If world leaders hold back, the Syrian and Hizballah armies will continue their march on Aleppo, Syria’s biggest town, for their next bloodbath.
This unbeatable preponderance makes the fall of Aleppo and Assad’s victory a foregone conclusion.
Putin and Obama will therefore need to put their heads together on accepted ground rules for this event.
1. Geneva-2 will not be convened by the US or Russia, as first agreed, but by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. This would force Washington to stay within the bounds of UN resolutions and not act as did the US and NATO in Libya to overthrow Muammar Qaddafi outside their Security Council mandate.
Sunday night, Washington was evidently exploring new diplomatic ground with Tehran when Denis McDonough, White House chief of staff commented that Hassan Rouhani’s election as president of Iran was a potentially hopeful sign. “If he is interested in, as he has said in his campaign events, mending his relations… with the rest of the world – there’s the opportunity to do that.”
4. Putin has gone back on his earlier consent to a single, united delegation representing the Syrian opposition at the projected international conference. He now maintains that the rebel front is hopelessly divided and the delegation should truly represent the real situation.