May 30, 2013 | Quote

Syria’s Deepening Sectarian War Bleeds Across Borders

The Syrian civil war is increasingly drawing in nations across the Middle East, a regionwide conflict that threatens to pit world powers against each other.

On Wednesday, the United Nations Human Rights Council pushed through a resolution to investigate the abuses of the Syrian regime, over the objections of the regime's ally Russia, who insisted the West was making matters worse.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry continued his travels in the region, trying to get all parties to agree to a peace conference in Geneva in the next few weeks. But councils representing the Syrian rebels again refused to join, demanding representatives of Bashar Assad's regime be banned.

Now the Obama's administration's proposed solution is to join forces with Russia and co-sponsor a peace conference in June in Geneva between Syria's opposition leaders and the Assad regime.

At this stage in the conflict, “the only thing it (a peace conference) does is rehabilitate Bashar al Assad, and locks in a moment when he is making some gains around the city of Homs,” says Tony Badran, an analyst at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. “You lock in that moment and say, 'Let's negotiate a settlement.' “

The Obama administration's stated goal, to negotiate Assad's departure, without giving aggressive lethal aid to the rebels or striking regime assets, such as air fields, “is premised on a fantasy,” Badran says. Assad “is not going to leave voluntarily.”

Michael Singh, managing director of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, says that without “putting any skin in the game,” the United States has little leverage in determining the outcome of the Syrian conflict.

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