Syria: no sign of a peace process – or of an end to the crisis

Signs that western governments are re-thinking their policy towards the Syrian crisis have been multiplying since last September’s chemical weapons deal and the increasingly prominent role being played by al-Qaida-affiliated groups in the war against President Bashar al-Assad.

Officially, the position of the US, Britain, France and the Gulf states is that Assad has no future/must step down – though how that is to be achieved is unclear.

That demand will be the centrepiece of next week’s Geneva peace conference, which is supposed to set up a Syrian transitional governing body “by mutual consent”.

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