Leo Herzenstein, Middle East Analyst at Business Monitor International in London, does not expect any substantial result from the conference.
First of all, it is will not necessarily take place, given that the opposition is not likely to participate. Moreover, the opposition does not have control and legitimacy on the territory. Many rebel groups do not recognize it as legitimate. It does not represent some of the more radical Islamist groups in the country, such as the al-Nusra front.
At the same time, the opposition says it would only participate only in case Assad leaves power and the regime is definitely not willing to do so. The regime itself doesn’t sincerely want to go to the negotiating table with people it considers terrorists. The regime is only willing to participate as it sees this as an opportunity to show that it is trying to do something. But clearly, in my view, there is no sincere intention of the Assad’s regime to come to the negotiating table at this point.
He also sees no prospects for stabilization in the country for the next 2 or 3 years.
I believe that the European plans are not likely to have a short term impact. First of all, no European country wants to send any military aid, which is offensive, over the next months. The EU initiative was more of a message to Russia and Syria that they are ready to step up efforts.
However, I think that we are at a turning point in the conflict and the proxy war nature of the conflict will become more intense. We have seen a very clear message from Hezbollah that it is not going to leave Assad alone. Russia has been very strong in its support, and Iran as well. On the other side there is the US that is encountering strong pressure to act, even though Washington is not willing to invest a lot of resources.
I think there are two big outcomes form the recent events which will only reaffirm what we have been seeing over the past years. First, the spillover effect will become more intense. This will threaten stability in the region, especially in the neighbouring countries such as Iraq or Lebanon, especially countries with a large Shia population. And this insures that the ME will remain an unstable region for years to come.