Kicking the Can in Syria Down the Road to Damascus

The United Nations Security Council unanimously approved a resolution, on December 18th, which purports to set out a framework and timetable for ending the nearly five year war in Syria and establishing an “inclusive and Syrian-led political process.” Negotiations between selected opposition groups and Syrian government representatives are slated to begin in January. Within 6 months, a transition government with full executive powers is supposed to be established. Within 18 months, under the terms of a newly drafted constitution to be negotiated, UN-supervised “free and fair” elections are to take place. There is also supposed to be a parallel UN-monitored ceasefire in Syria, while the political talks are underway, except with respect to the ISIS-controlled territories where military efforts to degrade and destroy ISIS will continue. As many UN resolutions do, however, this resolution papers over key issues still dividing the warring parties. The elephant in the room – the fate of Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad – was sidestepped, completely.