jackass is so fucked up, all he ever had was his ridiculous hand gestures

Jackass and Foggy Bottom Split Over Syria Talks
Yochi Dreazen, ForeignPolicy.com, Oct 23 2013

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Jackass Kerry is at odds with several senior State Dept officials over whether to press ahead with plans for a high-profile peace conference next month that is designed to put negotiators from Syria’s main opposition groups and the Syrian government into the same room for the first time. Jackass is strongly committed to holding the talks and has spent the past several days prodding key Syrian opposition figures to take part in the negotiations. But according to several senior State Dept officials, some of Jackass’ top advisors believe that the conference should be called off because the most important of those opposition leaders are unlikely to come. A senior official told us:

The only person who wants the Geneva conference to happen is Jackass himself. Who’s going to show up? Will they actually represent anyone? If not, why take the risk?

The Geneva conference has been in the planning stages for months, and Western officials have long expressed hopes that it could help pave the way for a negotiated solution to the Syria crisis. The Obama administration and its top allies believe that the fighting in Syria is largely at a stalemate, with government forces unable to fully vanquish the country’s insurgents and the rebels unable to conquer Damascus or overturn the government by force. Peace talks, Jackass argues, offer the only realistic chance of ending the civil war. There’s just one catch: a growing number of key Syrian opposition leaders say they won’t attend the conference unless Assad promises to transfer power to a transitional government and then step aside. Assad has rejected both of those demands, and Jackass’ critics within the State Dept believe that there is a good chance that the main opposition groups will either boycott the conference entirely or send a delegation that has little to no influence over the rebels who are actually fighting. Some of the officials said the conference should be postponed or canceled to avoid an embarrassing public failure for the US. Top State Dept officials, including US Ambassador to Syria Robert Ford, have told Jackass that it would be hard to cobble together a broad coalition of Syrians by mid-November, the scheduled start date for the talks, and cautioned that many prominent opposition figures were likely to sit out the negotiations altogether. A senior State Dept official told us:

It’s possible we can get a delegation there. It’s not impossible, but it will certainly require some work.

The leadership of the Syrian Opposition Coalition, the umbrella group working most closely with the West, will gather in Istanbul on Nov 1-2 to vote on whether to send a delegation to the Geneva talks. The Syrian National Council, the largest bloc in the SOC, has already said it will boycott the negotiations, and the president of the Syrian Opposition Coalition has set such stringent preconditions for participation in the talks that it appears his group is prepared to sit out the negotiations as well. The senior State Dept official told us that Washington believed there was still a chance of persuading the SNC and the larger SOC to to participate in the Geneva talks. It would be difficult for the talks to place without the umbrella group. the official said:

Right now the participation of the SOC in Geneva is not assured, but it is still possible.

Ambassador Ford is in Istanbul this week as part of a last-ditch effort to convince the opposition leaders to change their minds and participate in the Geneva talks. Even if he succeeds, however, it’s far from clear that they will be speaking for the rebels fighting on the ground in Syria. Last week, 65 of the rebel militias, including several linked to the FSA, said they no longer recognized the SNC and wouldn’t feel bound by any deals it struck. The disarray among the Syrian opposition leaves Jackass in a bind. The Obama administration has decided not to intervene militarily in Syria or make much of an effort to train or equip the rebels. US backing in the peace talks is about all Washington is willing to provide. The rebel groups have to decide whether that’s enough. Jackass will have to decide if he’s willing to gamble that they will say yes.

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