Newspaper article International New York Times

Break the Gridlock on Syria

Newspaper article International New York Times

Break the Gridlock on Syria

Article excerpt

The Iran agreement opens a path toward ending the Syrian conflict. We must not let it slip away.

For more than four years, Syria has been ravaged by one of the deadliest wars of our time. If anyone in the international community still harbored the notion that this conflict could be ignored or contained, the dramatic events of recent weeks have proven them wrong: For months now, a huge and rising number of Syrian refugees have been pouring across Europe's borders every day, seeking safety from both the barrel bombs of the Assad regime and the carnage of Islamic State's terrorist militia.

Meanwhile, Islamic State fighters are advancing against the forces of President Bashar al-Assad, whose military is running out of loyal recruits. There may not be much time left to preserve what remains of Syria's statehood from falling into utter chaos, leading to even more violence and suffering.

Let's face it: So far, all efforts by the international community to facilitate a political resolution have failed. Differences between the West and Russia have prevented the United Nations Security Council from taking decisive action. Neighboring countries have been unable to overcome their rivalries over regional influence and deep-seated mistrust. Iran was -- and for some remains -- an outcast, with which talks are not palatable. Military support continues to flow to the warring factions from hidden and not-so- hidden sources.

Against this backdrop, the recent agreement between Iran and the six world powers known as the P5+1 (the United States, Britain, China, France and Russia, plus Germany) opened a new window of opportunity for the region and possibly a chance to break the gridlock on Syria. New channels of dialogue have been opened. Both Secretary of State John Kerry and the Russian foreign minister, Sergey V. Lavrov, met with key officials of the Gulf countries. …

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