After two relatively productive rounds of peace talks in Astana had many upbeat about the possibility of finally negotiating a settlement to the Syrian Civil War, the third round of talks began today and appear to be dead in the water, with no rebels in attendance.
The rebels argued they were “boycotting” the talks to protest Russia continuing to carry out airstrikes against targets inside Syria. The Syrian government sent a delegation and insists they’ll continue the talks, though at this point it appears to be just them, with Russian and Iranian officials.
At the time of the first round of talks, the negotiations with the rebels were significant, including large numbers of important rebel factions. After those talks started, however, al-Qaeda’s Nusra Front virtually wiped out several of the rebel factions involved, accusing them of conspiracy for being in the talks at all.
By the second round, what was left of the rebels at the talks was limited, but that they were still talking at all was noteworthy. With those rebels having scrapped their involvement, it does not appear the process has any future.