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Peace Talks For Syria47:04

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The desperate bid to negotiate an end to Syria’s civil war. Fragile talks in Geneva. We’ll dig in.

In this photo released by the Syrian official news agency SANA, Syrians gather where three bombs exploded in Sayyda Zeinab, a predominantly Shiite Muslim suburb of the Syrian capital, Syria, Sunday, Jan. 31, 2016. The triple bombing claimed by the extremist Islamic State group killed at least 45 people near the Syrian capital of Damascus on Sunday, overshadowing an already shaky start to what are meant to be indirect Syria peace talks. (SANA via AP)
In this photo released by the Syrian official news agency SANA, Syrians gather where three bombs exploded in Sayyda Zeinab, a predominantly Shiite Muslim suburb of the Syrian capital, Syria, Sunday, Jan. 31, 2016. The triple bombing claimed by the extremist Islamic State group killed at least 45 people near the Syrian capital of Damascus on Sunday, overshadowing an already shaky start to what are meant to be indirect Syria peace talks. (SANA via AP)

After all kinds of pressure from Washington and beyond, peace talks over the Syrian civil war are finally underway in Geneva. Maybe. Participants can’t even agree over whether they’ve started. The odds of a negotiated solution seem almost nil. But the talks are a good window through which to look at Syria and the clashing interests behind a war that has destroyed a country, spawned ISIS, flooded Europe and set the world on edge. This hour On Point, war and peace and Syria.

Guests

Patrick McDonnell, Beirut bureau chief for the Los Angeles Times. (@mcdneville)

Noah Bonsey, senior Syria analyst for the International Crisis Group. (@noahbonsey)

Joshua Landis, associate professor and director of the Center for Middle East Studies at the University of Oklahoma. Author of the Syria Comment blog. (@joshua_landis)

From Tom’s Reading List

Los Angeles Times:'The talks have started': U.N. mediator meets with Syrian opposition -- "In addition to securing a cease-fire, the talks, which could last for months, are aimed at forming a transitional government and eventually organizing U.N.-backed elections. But everyone acknowledges those goals will be difficult to attain. On Monday, pro-government forces overran opposition-held areas north of Aleppo city, disrupting supply lines and threatening to cut off rebel-held territories to the west, according to government and opposition accounts."

Newsweek: What Should Be Discussed At The Syria Peace Talks — "If Russia and the U.S. can't agree on whether Assad stays or goes, at least they can make progress in defining how that question will ultimately be addressed. Otherwise, Syrian-Syrian negotiations are virtually guaranteed to break down over this point—likely sooner rather than later. In the first two Vienna meetings, those assembled took a small step in this direction: calling for free, fair, UN-monitored elections open to all Syrians inside and outside the country. But that is insufficient."

Syria Comment: The Ten Most Important Developments in Syria in 2015 -- "The actors involved in Syria’s war should plan for failure even more than they plan for success. They should already be preparing for a post-Geneva situation where they need to salvage, secure, and build on any shred of progress achieved in the talks. Reaching a comprehensive ceasefire by June seems incredibly difficult, but a dampening of violence just might be possible, with some luck. If serious about it, Syrian negotiators could presumably also reach meaningful agreement on more limited and less controversial issues."

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