The Syrian opposition has vented its frustration at the delegation from the regime of Bashar al-Assad at the Geneva peace talks, accusing its leaders of procrastinating and avoiding any substantive dialogue in favour of arguing about procedures.
The anger suggests the success of the talks may turn on the willingness of Russia to put pressure on Assad, Syria’s president, to stop the talks ending in an early stalemate.
Bashar al-Assad appears on German TV last month.
The US secretary of state, John Kerry, is travelling to Moscow this week to gauge the extent to which the Russian president, Vladimir Putin, is willing, following his surprise decision last week to undertake a partial military withdrawal, to exert his leverage over the Assad regime.
On Sunday, Mohammed Alloush, the leader of the Syrian opposition delegation, said the Assad delegation was so far refusing to engage in detailed negotiations and instead continuing to starve Syrians into submission.
Staffan de Mistura, the UN special envoy to Syria, on Friday tried to put the best gloss on the first week of talks, saying the good news was that the “system of proximity talks had contributed to the talks continuing with no walk-outs, no excessive rhetoric and no breakdowns”.