Russia and the US now have the power to impose peace in Syria

It was scheduled to start over a week ago. Then last Wednesday. Now tomorrow . When round three of the Geneva peace talks on Syria begins, it could be Groundhog Day for Syrians. If the actors read from the script they used at the previous UN-sponsored negotiations – Geneva I in 2012 and Geneva II in 2014 – the last act will be the same: a failure.

The conference, like the current ceasefire, which began on 27 February, is taking place because the United States and Russia want it to. At last they seem to agree that the stumbling block to the last two sessions – the fate of the Syrian president, Bashar al-Assad – is not important enough to prolong the war.

Both sides know that this US v Russia proxy war is out of control: Europe has been hit with a tide of refugees that threatens the EU’s fragile unity; and the conflict has spread to Iraq, and threatens to erupt in Lebanon and Jordan.

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This article was written by Charles Glass for The Guardian on Mar. 13, 2016. Charles Glass is the author of Tribes with Flags, a travel narrative on Greater Syria, which is being reissued by Harper Collins.