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Are this week's Geneva talks on Syria doomed to fail?

Geneva III negotiations are expected to start Jan. 25 to seek a long-awaited political solution to the lingering Syrian crisis, but the parties have set preconditions and can't even agree on who should participate.
General view of United Nations (U.N.) Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura attending a meeting on Syria with representatives of the five permanent members of the Security Council (P5) at the United Nations European headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland, January 13, 2016.  REUTERS/Denis Balibouse   - RTX228S7
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DAMASCUS, Syria — There is no glimmer of hope for a solution to the Syrian crisis, even with the Geneva III peace talks planned for Jan. 25 between delegations of the regime and the opposition. As if the process weren't fragile enough, Army of Islam (Jaish al-Islam) political leader Mohammed Alloush was named chief negotiator for the opposition. The Russian and the Syrian governments consider the Army of Islam a terrorist organization.

Two years ago, the Geneva II Conference did not bring anything new to the table in terms of reaching a solution. The government’s delegation refused to even discuss the possibility that President Bashar al-Assad would step down and a transitional governing body would be formed. Instead, the delegation focused only on combating terrorism — a topic the regime uses to evade other subjects. The opposition and regime delegations did discuss humanitarian issues and the provision of aid to the besieged areas, but the only ensuing agreement that was ever implemented was the Madaya-Kefraya al-Fua Agreement — and action on that came only recently.

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