Secretary of State John Kerry must be super-annoyed that his peace-talk plot for Syria has suddenly fallen apart: It's like the diplomatic version of the year's most anticipated dinner party being canceled, along with all the chances of the guests throwing the breadbasket at each other. But, there you go: An official told Russian media Monday that there was no way on earth the Geneva talks to resolve the Syrian civil war would be held this month. The gathering was originally scheduled for Nov. 22-24, but it's not like there was much chance of it actually happening — not with all the participants metaphorically sliding knives under their dinner napkins already.
For starters, the U.S. and Russia, the event's key organizers, were fighting over the guest list, which is kind of important. Then, one pretty critical attendee, Syrian Deputy Prime Minister Qadri Jamil, who would have come on behalf of Assad, was fired by Assad for leaving the country without permission. And then there was that little matter of Jamil trying to throw off the seating chart by deciding he wanted to sit on the other side of the table, a.k.a. with the opposition coalition.
And then there's the case of what used to be America's biggest Middle Eastern ally: Saudi Arabia, along with Qatar, has been arming rebel groups (while the U.S. has been training others), which the kingdom sees as at least getting something done over there. Saudi Arabia considers the Syria situation a stalemate with lots of talk and no action, so they've pulled back their cooperation with U.S. involvement in protest of the lack of direct American military involvement.
Because of this, it was unclear whether Saudi Arabia would attend the peace talks. However, even the leader of Hezbollah, a Lebanon-based extreme Islamic militant group that backs Assad, told off Saudi Arabia for supporting Syrian rebels and hindering chances at peace talks. And when you've got extremists on the other side yelling at you for blocking a peace process, that's not a great thing.
No one ever actually RSVP'd for sure to their invites, which didn't help. Assad said he wouldn't come if other nations kept giving the rebels guns. The rebels were threatening not to come at all if Assad had even a chance in Hezbollah of being in the power picture later. The U.S. didn't even say for sure they'd come to their own event, and Russia was also being wishy-washy anyway — which is super-annoying for Kerry, because you kind of want to know who's going to come to your peace party (and it'd be helpful if your own country wanted to come). Besides, it'd be super-awkward if it was just Assad's people, a few dusty rebels (especially if the al Qaeda ones showed up), and a couple of British envoys sounding all important with their posh accents and toddling off to the brandy cupboard.
And with basically no one wanting to speak to each other, the peace talks probably wouldn't have been very fun anyway.