A change of heart, sort of

The Syrian rebel High Negotiations Council has decided to send representatives to Geneva after all. Kind of:

A senior HNC delegate said the group would send “30, 35 people” to Geneva, the AFP news agency reports.

Earlier, Fuad Aliko, a source close to the group, said the delegation would not be acting “as negotiators”.

Farrah el-Atassi, another activist close to the HNC, told Reuters the team would talk to Mr de Mistura but also said it would not negotiate directly with the Syrian government.

This seems like a big 180 from where things were yesterday, but I have no idea what that part in bold means. These are indirect talks, meaning that the rebels and the Assad delegation won’t be sitting in the same room with each other, but they’ll each be talking to the UN and the UN will relay messages back and forth. So in a sense, nobody is going to be doing any negotiations since the two warring sides aren’t going to be talking to one another. But in another sense, if the HNC delegates aren’t there to “act as negotiators,” what are they planning to talk with the UN team about? The weather?

Talking is better than not talking–or, in this case, being in the same city where people are talking is better than not being there, I guess? But any major breakthrough still seems unlikely. On the plus side, if nobody walks out these talks are supposed to run for the next six months, and a lot can happen in that amount of time.

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