October 29, 2013 - 10:41 AMT
PanARMENIAN.Net - International envoy Lakhdar Brahimi held talks in Damascus on Monday, October 28 at the end of a Middle East tour to promote a Syrian peace conference, but regional tensions have cast a pall over his mission, according to Reuters.
Brahimi visited capitals across the Middle East to discuss plans for the "Geneva 2" meeting, tentatively set for November 23, to try to halt more than 2-1/2 years of bloodshed in Syria.
But opposition forces have not yet decided whether they will attend and Gulf Arab states backing the Syrian rebels have soured on the talks after Brahimi said on Saturday that their rival Iran, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's main regional ally, should join the international conference.
Brahimi met Syrian Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad, in Damascus but there was no word on whether Assad would see him.
A senior Turkish official said the envoy has not pushed for any deal on his tour, remaining in "listening and watching mode" and leaving active negotiating to Moscow and Washington.
Riyadh and Tehran see the struggle in Syria as determining which of them ends up with greater influence in the Arab world.
Saudi Arabia threatened to distance itself from the United States last week over its perceived inaction on Syria and its renewed efforts at reconciliation with Iran.
The diplomatic wrangling has made the Syrian opposition feel weaker and even more reluctant to consider attending Geneva 2.
"All these issues are getting tangled up into the other. Like the Saudis, we are very afraid that the United States' other interests in Iran will come at the cost of the Syrian cause," said Samir Nashar, an executive member of the Syrian National Coalition, the opposition's umbrella body abroad.
"If you ask me, this meeting won't happen on November 23. It won't happen ever."