Like a teenager who has been invited to a party and thinks, ”Well, I’m not going if they are,” the United Nations has found itself immersed in high school-esque angst while pushing for a diplomatic solution to the devastating Syrian war.
All sides are supposed to meet in Geneva to thrash out a peaceful resolution, but the UN has been forced to placate many opposing factions squabbling over the guest list and who has to sit near whom. As a result, the talks, which were meant to begin on Jan. 25, have now been delayed to Jan. 29.
The UN has yet to give an official confirmation of who is to attend, claiming the information is too sensitive, but here are some of rival gangs staring at each other across the cafeteria during the lunch break:
- Bashar al-Assad’s government, which has slowly been able to claw back some power thanks to Russian military support, is definitely attending.
- Russia wants the main Syrian Kurdish group, known as the Democratic Union Party, to be invited to the peace talks (recent report suggest they haven’t).
- But Turkey has threatened to boycott the talks if the DUP participated; it considers the group to be terrorists, like ISIL.
- The Saudi-backed coalition of rebels and political dissidents—known as the High Negotiations Committee—announced it would only take part in talks if the sieges in the country are lifted and other conditions are met.
- The High Negotiations Committee is angered by what it sees as Russia’s attempt to dictate who from the opposition should participate in the talks. The committee had previously warned that it would not attend peace talks with the government if a third group takes part. The group has yet to reach a consensus on whether they should attend the talks; they could decide today.
- For some reason, ISIL was not invited.
The rival factions will not initially meet face to face. The talks will reportedly be held in different rooms at the UN’s headquarters in Geneva. Staffan de Mistura, the UN’s special envoy for Syria—its third—will instead “shuffle between them.”