Why the failed Russian Sochi conference matters for Israel
The clear failure of Russia’s ‘Syrian National Dialogue Conference’ in the Black Sea resort of Sochi shows the limitations of the policy adopted by Moscow with regard to the Syrian civil war. Since Israeli diplomatic efforts to contain the westward advance of Iran and its proxies in Syria are to a considerable extent dependent on the notion of Russian potency and effectiveness in this arena, decisionmakers in Jerusalem will have been watching the unfolding events at the conference with interest and some concern.
So what happened at Sochi, and what went wrong?
The Russians first of all failed even to bring the main protagonists of the war around the table.
The main, UN-recognised Syrian opposition formation, the Syrian Negotiation Commission, did not attend. One senior member of the commission described the conference as a ‘meeting between the regime and the regime.’ An opposition website produced a picture of a beaming Syrian President Bashar Assad shaking hands with himself as a representation of the Sochi gathering.
The rebellion is of course losing ground to the regime and facing eclipse, but it still controls Idlib Province and most of Dera’a and Quneitra Provinces, as well as enclaves elsewhere.