U.S. lawmakers may be preparing for their summer recess (and just in time to escape a brutal DC heat wave), but the news cycle will certainly not be slowing down. Join Jim Lindsay and me, filling in for Bob MacMahon, on The World Next Week podcast as we discuss the upcoming crisis meeting on Syria in Geneva, Mexican presidential elections, and the upcoming budget challenges that Congress will need to confront to avert “taxmaggedon”.
- Kofi Annan’s six-point-peace plan is “in tatters,” I note, and the United Nations Human Rights Council reports that “atrocities are being committed on both sides.” The conflict is developing into a sectarian war as much as a political struggle against an authoritarian regime. “What you’re seeing developing in Syria, is becoming in a sense a proxy war, in which there are outside sponsors.” Russia and Iran are providing funds and weapons to the Assad regime, while Sunni Arab regimes, “not least Saudi Arabia,” are supporting the opposition forces.
- Last Friday, Turkey accused Syria of shooting down a Turkish warplane. As a NATO member, Turkey has the right to invoke Article V, which is the collective defense provision. Notably, however, Turkey invoked Article IV, which calls for consultations, for only the second time in the alliance’s history. As I tell Jim, “Right now, I don’t see NATO being drawn into this in any sort of military sense. My gut instinct is that the Turks are being quietly asked to show some restraint rather than launching any major military incursion into Syria, pending what happens in Geneva.”
- Russia will be present in Geneva. “I think this is a potentially huge development,” I explain “…there may be a growing recognition [in Moscow] that Assad is increasingly a lost cause and they may be trying to salvage something from the situation.” Watch to see if Russia drops its insistence that Assad maintain a role in a potential transitional government, which is a nonstarter for the United States, France, and the United Kingdom. But this is potentially a big game changer. U.S. president Obama and Russian president Putin discussed the situation on the sides of the G20 Los Cabos Summit last week, and may have laid the foundation to break the stalemate on Syria.
For more on the Mexican elections and the so-called “fiscal cliff,” listen to the whole podcast here.